NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science
Experiment (HiRISE) image of a small impact crater
on the sloping
wall of a larger crater. North is up, the slope is down eastward, and the area shown is about 250 m
Die Konzentration von
Dichlormethan in der
Atmosphäre steigt an.
Der Chloranteil kann
Erholung der Ozonschicht
HMS Queen Elizabeth
His AdS/CFT duality links
anti-de Sitter spacetime to conformal
field theory on its
boundary — the holographic
ER = EPR claim
links spacetime wormholes
to quantum entanglements
British schoolboy heat
Looks good — apart from
those stupid neckties
Because she was not
to express her own view
Mrs Windsor chose to
to get her message
Her Speech heralds Brexit,
her hat says otherwise
2017 June 29
Brexit Battlebus — Dangerous Driver
Brexit secretary David Davis says sunny uplands lie ahead. An EU
deal by March 2019 will give us almost all the trading benefits we
currently enjoy and will quickly leave us free to sign trade
agreements with the rest of the world. But EU officials say leaving
the EU means the UK will trade on worse terms than now.
has sublime confidence. Those who have worked with him say he hates
to listen to advice, has delusions of grandeur, is vain and
quixotic, and is all noise and bluster. Apparently he has no
practical sense of the realities he is about to confront and prefers
assertion to getting to grips with inconvenient facts.
department, Dexeu, is finding it hard to recruit and keep staff. It
has issued no details on how new arrangements for customs,
immigration, or the Irish border would work. Industry
representatives who visited Dexeu were left aghast at its approach
and were fobbed off with vague assurances that it would all be fine.
Davis is said to have learned more realism than Liam Fox and
Boris Johnson, but he has no interest in evidence that does not suit
him. As the UK chief negotiator, he needs a shrewd grasp of British
strategic needs and relative weakness. His role is not to grandstand
or cheerlead, but to be a tactful and wily realist.
Tory peer and Brexiteer: "I am frankly scared. I'd be surprised if
it all went right now."
2017 June 28
The European Commission, under direction
from EU27 leaders, wants the rights of the 3 million EU citizens
living in the UK and of the British diaspora in the EU guaranteed by
the European Court of Justice. They want to secure the status of
those citizens against the whims of a simple majority vote in the UK
The UK is one of the few countries in
the EU where political elites can dismiss checks on legislative
power by saying: "Well, what's the worst that could happen?" For the
leaders of most EU27 states, a guarantee not backed up by the
European Court of Justice is no guarantee at all.
Brextremists are concerned about sovereignty. Remaining subject to
the rule of the ECJ without being able to set its parameters
represents a significant loss of sovereignty. So Brexit minister
David Davis concedes that there will have to be an international
guarantor for any trade deal.
A new EU-UK international body
would satisfy the letter of Theresa May's ECJ red line. On the EU27
side, the body would take its lead from ECJ and hence effectively
subject the UK to the ECJ. You cannot satisfy both popular demand
for hard borders and political demand for sovereignty at once.
AR A sovereign UK would have no
brake to hinder a strong leader with a big parliamentary majority
from ruling effectively by fiat, for example to expel foreigners.
This constitutional deficit would represent a European fire risk.
2017 June 27
EU competition commissioner Margrethe
Vestager: "Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service
wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better
than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market
dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison
shopping service in its search results and demoting those of
competitors. What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust
AR Google will see
the €2.4 billion fine as
a tax bill.
The New York Times
President Trump is siding with Sunni
Saudi Arabia and demonizing Shiite Iran.
In Syria, Iran and
the United States share a common goal of defeating Daesh. But US officials fear the Iranians will seek control of
enough territory in Syria and Iraq to establish a land bridge from
Tehran to Lebanon. There they could resupply their Hezbollah allies.
Daesh is close to being routed from its headquarters in the city
of Raqqa. But the prospect of victory has opened the door to new
tensions between US and Iranian forces. US officials suspect that
Iran is more interested in controlling territory in these areas than
Russia threatened to retaliate to recent US
"self defense" moves by treating US warplanes as targets. Despite
this, administration officials seem to consider Iran a bigger
problem than Moscow.
Demonizing Iran could broaden the US
military mission in the region.
Theresa May locks in parliamentary majority
with £1 billion in promises to the DUP of Northern Ireland. The deal
buys two years of support for her government.
AR That's an extra fiver a
week per citizen in Northern Ireland.
2017 June 26
US Military Power
President Donald Trump has overseen a
transfer of power from the White House to the Pentagon.
Afghanistan, Trump has empowered defense secretary James Mattis to
set troop levels. In Yemen and Somalia, Trump has given US
commanders more freedom to launch raids and airstrikes without his
OK. In Iraq and Syria, he has also granted the Pentagon more freedom
to manage troop levels.
Trump administration officials
describe the changes as a deliberate effort to empower the military.
Much of the top brass described the Obama administration oversight
of military campaigns as micromanagement that needlessly hamstrung
Retired General John Allen backs letting the
military carry out missions more effectively and maintain the
momentum against the enemy: "Many of these targets are very
perishable. Every time I or other commanders had to come back to
Washington for permissions, everything slowed down."
Bannon: "The president believes the best thing to do is to let the
warfighters fight the war."
2017 June 25
Weak Gravity and Cosmic Censorship
Singularities are snags in spacetime
where general relativity breaks down and a quantum theory is needed.
Naked singularities have now been shown not to exist in a toy 4D
universe with an anti-de Sitter (AdS) spacetime geometry.
weak gravity conjecture (WGC) is that gravity must always be the
weakest force in any viable universe. Jorge Santos and Toby Crisford
found that if another force in the toy universe is stronger than
gravity, the singularity is censored by a black hole. It seems the
cosmic censorship conjecture (CCC) is saved just where gravity
becomes the weakest force.
It was thought that naked
singularities can exist in a 4D AdS universe with a bounded
spacetime — inside a tin can, say. But imagine an electromagnetic
(EM) field and a gravitational field coexisting in the can. Cranking
up the energy of the EM field on the surface of the can will cause
spacetime to curve more sharply inside it, to form a naked
Cumrun Vafa was working to rule out large swaths
of the 10^500 different possible universes that string theory
naively allows. He did this by identifying swamplands where
universes were too absurd to exist, and proposed the WGC as a
swamplands test. Universes seem to fail unless gravity is weaker
than the other forces, so the WGC swamps huge regions of the string
Vafa saw a link between the WGC and CCC. When
Santos and Crisford cranked up the strength of the EM field on the
surface of their can, they originally assumed that the interior was
classical, with no quantum fluctuations. But if singular particles
are more strongly coupled to the EM field than to gravity, as per
the WGC, then cranking up the EM field adds enough energy to trigger
collapse of singularities to black holes, as per the CCC.
Perhaps WGC iff CCC.
Jez We Can!
Glastonbury ravers burst out in Corbynmania when Jeremy Corbyn
arrived in a Somerset field to find hordes of young women with
"Jezza" and "I love Jez" written on their foreheads in glitter.
Corbyn, 68, was the first leading politician to appear at
Glastonbury since the festival began 47 years ago — and no one was
complaining that Theresa May had not shown up.
in chants of "Oh Je-rem-y Cor-byn" and "Jez we can" as he waved his
little red book (the Labour manifesto) and attacked the elites who
had got it wrong.
Spreadsheet Phil For PM!
Philip Hammond could replace Theresa May as UK prime minister in
a temporary alliance with Brexit minister David Davis. Ministers say Hammond should be anointed as leader before October
provided he vows to stand down as Conservative leader before the
A minister: "I think Philip is the only
plausible candidate for a couple of years, with DD running Brexit.
He is a more credible caretaker than the current prime minister."
DD: "It will be turbulent"
UK secretary of state for exiting the EU
David Davis says a leadership election to oust Theresa May would
have a catastrophic effect on Brexit negotiations. He was unsure
about securing a Brexit deal: "I never said it was a breeze. I said
it will be turbulent, there will be difficulties but at the end
there is a point of common interest."
On EU citizens in the
UK: "They get the same residence rights, the same employment rights,
the same rights, the same health rights, the same welfare rights,
the same pensions rights and so on, almost the same as British
citizens. The only thing they don't get is the right to vote — and
we ask for the same the other way."
The disagreement came
over the role of the European Court of Justice.
2017 June 24
Uranus has the weirdest magnetic field in
our solar system. A new model suggests that the edge of its
magnetic field bubble could be opening and shutting every day.
Most of the planets in our solar system rotate around similar axes,
spinning in the same plane as their orbit. Their magnetic fields are
aligned on the same axes, with field lines emerging from the cores
of the planets near their N and S poles and wrapping them in
Uranus is different. Its rotational axis is
tilted about 1.7 rad from the plane of its orbit around the sun. The
axis of its magnetic field is tilted 1.0 rad from the rotational axis and
offset, with field lines emerging some distance from the S pole.
The Uranian magnetosphere tumbles in a complicated way. Carol
Paty and Xin Cao created a model of the magnetosphere and its
interactions with the solar wind that fits the best data to date.
The magnetosphere forms a shield against the solar wind: when
the two are moving in the same direction, the solar wind slides by.
But when they move in opposed directions, the bubble shield lets some wind
particles flow inward.
Such magnetic reconnection occurs
occasionally over Earth and can lead to intense auroras. On Uranus,
Paty and Cao found that it should happen every U-day (about 62 ks),
switching the bubble shield on and off. This could lead to auroras
The best data on the field around Uranus is from from
the Voyager 2 flyby in 1986. NASA dreams of sending a new probe to
Uranus in 2034.
Dunkirk without the boats
Brexit will be dropped like a
broken toy around 2020:
Labour will quietly ask the EU if we can
stay after all.
2017 June 23
An International Laughing Stock
The pageantry of the Queen's speech is easy
to mock. But this time the farce had nothing to do with the fancy
costumes and archaic language. The UK has chosen to legislate itself
out of the EU without having anything remotely resembling a credible
plan for national prosperity on the other side.
of Tory manifesto were expunged from the government agenda. Yet the
Queen's speech contained eight bills relating to Brexit. Just one of
them is so monstrously complicated it is hard to imagine parliament
having the capacity to do much else over the next two years.
On Monday, Brexit secretary David Davis led his negotiators into
their first session with their EU counterparts, led by Michel
Barnier. The only measurable outcome was total capitulation by the
UK side on the question of sequencing for the talks ahead. The EU27
insisted that agreement on divorce terms must precede discussion of
future trading arrangements. The UK team had intended to dispute
this timetable — but promptly folded.
Article 50 is
activated. The clock is counting down, and the pretence that May
might be prepared to walk away without a deal is melting. The bluff
was called on day one.
A tragic folly is unfolding. The UK
parliament is an international laughing stock, and not because of
the silly wigs or the funny hat on a stick.
You Have To Laugh
Britain has become the laughing stock
of Europe. The British people were lied to by the Leave campaign and
treated like idiots by the popular press. The economic outlook is
dire — yet Brexit negotiations have hardly begun.
will withdraw from its main trading alliance. It would make sense to
stay in the single market and the customs union, but that would mean
being subject to regulations over which Britain no longer had any
say. Better to have stayed in the EU in the first place.
EU is dealing with a government that has no idea what it it wants.
The UK had finally found a new place in the world as a strong,
awkward, and influential part of the EU. Now it has fallen into an
identity crisis, a fit of madness.
2017 June 22
The Queen's Speech
Theresa May has delivered a threadbare
Queen's Speech that befits her lame government. Most of the measures
in her manifesto have been ditched.
legislative package was dominated by eight measures on Brexit. May
has not yet secured a deal with the DUP, so the Government will have
to live from hand to mouth in the Commons. The
Tory party's civil war on Europe between Europhiles and
Brextremists has flared up again.
There may be no majority among MPs for hard
Brexit. There will certainly be none if May tries to walk away from
the EU negotiations without an agreement. Her "no deal is better
than a bad deal" mantra might apply to the DUP talks, but on the
Brexit negotiations it is dead.
The House of Lords, which
would have swallowed its doubts about hard Brexit if May had
enhanced her majority, will now feel no such constraint. Peers will
certainly get their teeth into the Repeal Bill, which would allow
ministers to change EU laws without full parliamentary scrutiny.
Conservative MPs do not want a general election, but if
necessary they will not hesitate to force May out.
the longest and hottest day over Poole Bay
"I want to make Mars seem
possible — make it seem as
is something that
we can do in our lifetime.
There really is a way
anyone could go if they
EU More Popular
Pew survey of 10,000 people
across the EU
in positive opinions of EU
compared with a year ago:
Germany 68% (up 18 pp)
France 56% (up 18 pp)
UK 54% (up 10
EU estimates presented
€100 billion (€60 billion
€60 billion (€40 billion net)
Trump under investigation
for possibly obstructing justice
in relation to a criminal probe
Trump tweet: "They made up
a phony collusion with the
Russians story, found zero
so now they go for
obstruction of justice on
the phony story.
AR Dude's a bozo.
2017 Summer Solstice
The harder the Brexit, the bigger the cost. The
same goes for Britain's role and influence in the world. Leaving the
EU removes the platform Britain has this century for projecting its
Britain's decline from being the leading power began
in 1914 and continued until 1980. The decline resumed after 2008.
Brexit threatens to accelerate that decline.
thread in British influence since the end of the cold war is our
cooperation with France and Germany. The three powers represent
Europe and together count for something in the world.
democratic country can be a power in the world unless it has a
thriving economy. We also have to be part of a wider team. Britain
on its own will count for little in the west.
We will be part
of NATO. But as the US withdraws from global leadership, the regions
the US has protected since 1945 have to determine their own defence
and security. That includes Europe.
I doubt that our current
leaders will countenance a strategic rethink. We need to remain
joined to our continental partners. If we can no longer help shape
the world, others will do it for us.
2017 June 20
Asgardia is open to all residents on planet Earth and
is free to join. Since Igor Ashurbeyli announced his plans to form
an independent nation that operates in outer space in October 2016,
hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to be citizens.
Asgardia will establish a physical presence in space via a
series of satellites. Ashurbeyli says the first will be launched
into Earth orbit in September 2017. The data includes things like
family photos, says Ashurbeyli.
Going forward, the Asgardia
team hopes to create habitable platforms in LEO. Ashurbeyli says our
real home is planet Earth: "Going to Mars, the galactics, so on —
that's just fake. I intend something more real."
Since launching in 2009, the NASA Kepler
mission has observed more than 200,000 stars in search of
exoplanets. Kepler has now identified 4,034 planet candidates, 2,335
of them confirmed as exoplanets and more than 30 of the confirmed
planets similar in size to Earth.
The Kepler mission has
shown that the smaller exoplanets fall into two distinct sizes:
Earth-like planets and super-Earths, and gaseous mini-Neptunes.
Altogether, Kepler has found that exoplanets can be cold gas giants,
hot Jupiters, ocean worlds, ice giants, lava worlds, and rocky
This is the final catalog detailing exoplanet
candidates and confirmations from Kepler mission K1. From 2009 to
2014, Kepler observed part of the constellation Cygnus. Kepler
broadened its search in K2 to include other parts of our galaxy. The
mission will end in October.
2017 June 19
Emmanuel I of France
Emmanuel Macron has won. The second round of
French legislative elections give his La République En Marche party
and its centrist allies 350 of 577 seats. Les Républicains and their
allies won 131 seats, the Parti Socialiste 29. Less than 44% of the
electorate turned out to vote.
2017 June 18
NATO v Russia
The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad was
surrounded on three sides by NATO forces yesterday in Operation
Saber Strike and BALTOPS. The Russian Baltic fleet is based in
Kaliningrad and the exclave is defended by nuclear-capable Iskander
The exercises included deployment of B-52, B-1B, and
B-2 bombers, showing US commitment "to ready and posture forces focused
on deterring conflict". Moscow responded by
flying two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers with fighter jets and a
spy plane over the Baltic Sea.
Last week the NATO exercises
consisted of live fire by heavy artillery in the Suwalki Gap, a 100
km stretch of land between Kaliningrad and Belarus.
commander Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Gventer: "Our focus here is to
deter and defend the alliance from aggression by being razor sharp
and lethal. God forbid we would have to defend, but we create a
deterrent effect by being credible."
2017 June 17
A Great Chancellor
Helmut Kohl (Kanzler 1982—1998) reunited Germany,
cemented its role with France at the heart of Europe, and pushed to
introduce the euro.
Entanglement is key to quantum networks and
quantum cryptography, but it is easily disrupted by interference
from the environment. Entangled photons face interference in the
lower 10 km or so of the atmosphere but are more isolated in space.
A new record for entanglement used a satellite to connect Earth
sites separated by up to 1200 km.
The satellite Quantum
Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) was launched from Jiuquan, China,
in 2016 to orbit at an altitude of about 500 km. QUESS generated
entangled pairs of photons and transmitted them to ground stations
in China. One member of each pair went to one site and the other to
another, over distances from 500 to 2000 km.
distance was set by photons beamed at the cities of Delingha and
Lijiang in China, with experiments achieving 10^17 greater
efficiency at transmitting entangled photons than the best optical
fibers. The experiments generated about 6 million entangled pairs of
photons per second and the researchers detected about 1 pair per
Researchers in Germany measured the quantum coherence
of laser signals from about 40 Mm away. Physicists at MPI Erlangen,
Germany, worked with the Alphasat I-XL satellite in geostationary
Earth orbit, which communicates via laser signals with a ground
station in Spain. The work suggests global quantum crypto key
distribution is feasible.
2017 June 16
In this new addition to the cult of Winston,
starring Brian Cox, scripted by Alex von Tunzelmann and directed by
Jonathan Teplitzky, Churchill betrays his private agony on the eve
AR It worked for me.
Refracting the heart of the war leader through a few days in
June 1944, the tale steered short of hagiography and made a useful
counterpoint to the comparably illuminating Hitler movie
Brexit Is Dead
The Conservative party has lost face. The
UK is the most connected country in Europe — look at the financial
center in London, UK-based carmakers, what's left of British
industry. Continentals have stakes in UK electricity, waterworks,
and airports, and supply a quarter of all NHS doctors.
Brexit would let the UK remain a part of the single market. It would
mean accepting EU immigration and EU regulations — bad perhaps, but
better than no deal at all. With no deal, investors face
uncertainty, stunted growth, less trade, and higher taxes.
The promise of Brexit was a fairy
tale based on jingoism. Brexit was never a very good idea. Now, in
practical terms, it is dead.
Brexit Saved Europe
Watching Brexit unfold is such a pleasure.
One year on from the referendum, it is now clear that leaving the EU
is exceptionally difficult, carries an undeniable cost, and plays
havoc with the politics of the country attempting it.
A victory for leave
has shattered the dreams of
all the Europhobes and Eurosceptics across the union against the
brick wall of reality. So I would like to thank the British people,
who have shown a spirit of sacrifice that is greatly to their
Brexit has acted as a deterrent that united Europeans
as never before. For the past year, the British political class have
revealed their complete recklessness. Brexit amounts to a loss of
influence and an abdication of shared sovereignty in the union.
2017 June 15
Trump: The Nightmare
Donald Trump is funny. The sheer recklessness
of the things he says takes the breath away. He turned everybody on.
He spent much of his career on the bottom rungs of the entertainment
industry. The guy's played one toilet after another. And in so doing
he's honed his common touch.
A billionaire who started out
life a millionaire has become the working-class hero. Like, how much
of a nitwit is Average Joe for imagining that Trump is his man.
Trump is Average Joe except filthy stinking rich, part con man and
part ham actor. He isn't a president, he's a reality star.
Trump is a big butch American hot dog. He's a swinging dick and an
alpha male, a maker of deals and a builder of buildings. He isn't
one of those sissies who need a woman to sign a permission slip
before he'll try to hold her hand. Hell no, he grabs pussy first,
asks questions later.
Trump feeds off the ardor of his fans,
and his best outcome was defeat in a squeaker. Then he'd spend the
rest of his days shaking a fist at the system. Instead, victory. Now he's only a short jump to the nightmare: the crowd's love
turning into hate, the cheers into jeers.
May: The Cliff
Theresa May has accepted responsibility for her profound
misjudgment of politics. Over the past year she has been disdainful
and delusional. She has utterly failed to recognize the terrifying
complexity of withdrawing from the EU, the truth that our economy
needs the EU far more than they need us, and the bleak consequences
if we crash out without a deal.
The prime minister has no
mandate from the public for hard Brexit and no majority in
parliament for anything. An eighth of the time on the Brexit clock
has been wasted on this election. Europe can either make these talks
as productive as possible or so slow and awkward that no deal is
made. May can only avert disaster by creating goodwill and building
A former ambassador: "It's going to get very
bitter and twisted over the next 18 months, and she'll need a pool
of good faith. She has to understand that it's up to her, because
Europe's view is: If they want to drive themselves off a cliff,
they're going to find it bloody cold at the bottom."
AR Perhaps it was deliberate: "Let them
eat Brexit" — only then can facts prevail.
2017 June 14
View From Denmark
Road to Brexit, Copenhagen
Danish finance minister
Kristian Jensen: "There are two kinds of European nations. There are
small nations and there are countries that have not yet realised
they are small nations. It is a paradox that the country that once
had an empire on which the sun never sets, that ruled the waves,
that in its heart is truly global, is now drawing back from the
world's most successful free trade area."
Jensen reflected on
British membership of the G7, the G20, and the UN permanent security
council: "There is still this notion in some countries that because
they have been the rulers of the 20th century they will continue to
be that in the 21st century. They are a member of all these groups,
but what has happened to the value of the pound since Brexit? What
will happen in the coming years when the finance sector is perhaps
looking to Frankfurt or Paris? What will happen when inflation
rises? How will they be in the future? I am very concerned about
Britain's economy right now."
Denmark has taken Brexit very
badly. Danish Chamber of Commerce CEO Jens Klarskov: "I think the
response ranges from surprise to repulsion. How can they do that?
Would you leave your best friends among enemies? That’s what you've
done. We were best pals and now you are leaving us."
The UK is in a spectacular mess. Europhobic
obsession over EU membership has brought the country to a crisis. We
cannot assume economic life as we know it will continue after a
There is no binary choice between Remain and
Leave. Britain is now uniting Europe against the UK. That is a
Harold Macmillan understood that the UK
had a strategic interest in being part of a strong Europe. The best
choice for the UK remains to Remain. All the alternatives are much
The UK is trapped between an EU rock and a hard
Brexit. No Brexit is far better than no deal. But a bad deal, or
none, lies ahead.
AR What next —
a military putsch to impose martial law and abandon Brexit? The
putschists would have to be republicans — the Queen might prefer
a hard Brexit.
"I'm backing Theresa May.
get on with the job."
"I will continue for as long
as you want me to do
Philip Hammond is the only
figure in the cabinet who can
salvage something from the
wreckage of the Brexilection.
Colleagues say Boris Johnson
plotting a new power grab.
Hammond is more concerned
securing a reasonable
outcome to the Brexit
"Dead woman walking"
USAF B-1B Lancer bombers
deploy to England for
2 in 3 Conservative party
members say May
"After this election, there's
no mandate for the hard Brexit
the prime minister put forward
— but there's no mandate to
Brexit either. With
no majority in Parliament,
position just got weaker."
Lord Peter Ricketts
Fiona Hill resign
At the Poole count
2017 June 13
France v Britain
Theresa May will enter the Brexit
negotiations gravely weakened after the British general election.
Emmanuel Macron is poised to emerge from French elections with a
huge parliamentary majority.
Macron will see Brexit as a
historic opportunity. Macron has a vision of a revitalized France
inside a revitalized EU that works better if Brexit proceeds
uninterrupted. Macron wants much deeper EU integration on defense
and finance, and Britain has been a brake on European federalism.
Macron needs to show French voters that leaving the EU will
bring only pain. If he can also rebuild the Franco-German
partnership at the heart of the EU, he can restore the popularity of
the European project in France. With Britain out of the EU, there is
a better chance of restarting the drive for European integration.
The opportunities for France are economic as much as political.
If Britain excludes itself from the EU single market, France has a
unique chance to hoover up jobs in finance and manufacturing. Macron
has little economic or political incentive to make concessions on
migration or money.
As President Macron pursues French
interests, he will occupy the moral high ground. Britain has brought
its fate upon itself, while he is motivated by a desire to protect
the European project.
Get On With It!
Next week, it will be three months after
the sending of the Article 50 letter. We have not progressed. We
must begin this negotiation. We are ready as soon as the UK is
My preoccupation is that time is passing, The subjects
we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex. It will take us
several months to draw out the conditions of an orderly withdrawal,
so let us not waste time.
From my side, there is no spirit of
revenge, no punishment, no naivety either. There is truth on what
Brexit means, what leaving the EU signifies by its consequences. The
citizens have the right to know this truth.
AR We could invite Barnier to serve as
guest UK prime minister.
2017 June 12
France Is Back
President Macron strengthened his grip on power as his centrist
party La République En Marche swept to an overwhelming victory in
the first round of parliamentary elections. The party is on course
to secure a landslide of between 415 and 445 of the 577 seats in the
AR This is
what the UK needs — a new hero, a new party, new hope.
A Softer Tone
Theresa May faces a showdown with
re-elected Conservative MPs today. The party civil war on Europe may
be about to reignite as she tries to negotiate a deal with the DUP.
May had to abandon plans for a sweeping cabinet reshuffle,
including the expected sacking of her chancellor Philip Hammond.
Instead most of her senior team stay in place.
appointed Damian Green (PPE, Oxford, and a staunch pro-European) as
first secretary of state, in effect deputy PM. He will play a key
role in setting Brexit policy.
Theresa May saw that the popular will had
been established on that sacred referendum day. Boris Johnson
promised that Britain could have its cake and eat it. After the
election, the unified people would have a unified parliament and a
strong leader to stand on the cliffs of Dover and shake her spear of
sovereignty at the damn continentals.
All May had to do was
repeat the words "strong and stable" over and over and Labour would
be crushed forever. Britain would become one-party state, and Europe
would bow and concede a Brexit deal in which supplies of cake would
be infinitely renewed. There were three problems:
1 May demanded an enormous majority so
that she could ride out into the Brexit battle without having to
worry about mutterings in the ranks behind her. But to win an
election, you need a convincing narrative.
2 The Conservatives tried to build a
personality cult around a robotic politician. The party has plunged
the UK into an existential crisis because it was too weak to stand
up to a few nationalist zealots and tabloid press barons.
3 The idea of a single British people
united by the Brexit vote is ludicrous. Not only do Scotland,
Northern Ireland, and London have large anti-Brexit majorities, but
many of those who did vote for Brexit are deeply unhappy about the
effects of government austerity policies.
May will form a
government with the support of the DUP. That government will be weak
and unstable and it will have no real authority to negotiate an
agreement with the European Union. Brexit is thus far from being a
Theresa May went into the
contest seeking a stronger negotiating hand with the EU. But she had
nothing to say about Brexit that she wanted to share with the
electorate. She gave the impression that we should trust her to get
the deal done, not worry our silly little heads about the detail.
The manifesto failed because May and her inner circle rebuffed
almost every single person who offered advice. They forgot the
golden rule of political survival: listen. Her presidential campaign
kept ministers away from the cameras and put her before
candidates on their own leaflets.
Anyone with the interests
of the country at heart would be building a cross-party and business
alliance to tackle Brexit. Instead, we have delusion and denial. It
cannot be long before May is challenged for the leadership.
Since Galilieo, science has been one long
success story. It has uncovered the workings of nature and brought
untold benefits to humanity. Philosophy has done less well.
But philosophers hand things over to scientists. All
new sciences start as branches of philosophy, and only become
established as separate disciplines once philosophy has bequeathed
them the intellectual capital to survive on their own.
Physics as we know it was grounded in the mechanical philosophy of
Descartes and others. Whenever philosophy makes progress, it spawns
a new subject, which then no longer counts as part of philosophy. So
philosophy is full of progress.
Philosophical problems arise
within science as well as outside it. The interpretation of quantum
mechanics is a scientific question that admits no simple
experimental resolution. We need a coherent theory to accommodate
Philosophical issues typically have the form of a
paradox. Scientific theories can be infected by paradox too. The
quantum wave packet must collapse, but this violates physical law.
Here philosophical methods are called for, to figure out where our
thinking is leading us astray.
One of the great scandals of
our time is the way physicists have brushed the problems of quantum
mechanics under the carpet. Generations of students were told that
the glaring inconsistencies apparent in the theory were none of
their business. Shut up and calculate was the line.
people dislike banging their heads against nasty paradoxes. But
someone has to do it. Philosophers take on the hard questions.
AR Quantum paradoxes? I'm onto them.
2017 June 11
Did Higgs Blow Up The Universe?
The universe began as a hot speck of energy
and inflated quantum fluctuations to form stars and galaxies.
1 Fedor Bezrukov and Mikhail
Shaposhnikov show how the Higgs boson could be the inflaton. The
Higgs field could have inflated the tiny cosmos exponentially, in a
fraction of a second, by nearly as much as it did in the following
13.8 billion years. The Higgs potential curve is shaped like a dip
with a bump in the middle. The Higgs comes to rest in the dip to one
side and gives mass to other particles. If the side of the dip has
a flat shelf around it, the Higgs could sit there and flood the
universe with extreme antigravity.
Juan García-Bellido says a tweaked Higgs potential implies a second
scalar particle, the dilaton. The expansion of the universe is
accelerating, and the dilaton field could provide the boost to
expansion. The dilaton would prevent the Higgs mass from dilating
too much but itself would be massless. Dark energy would be its main
effect in the universe.
Alexander Kusenko says the Higgs field could have been much stronger
during inflation. As the field relaxed, it could distinguish between
particles and antiparticles, leaving more matter than antimatter,
which would otherwise have annihilated each other to leave an empty
AR Neat — three wins at
2017 June 10
Deal with the DUP
BBC, 1951 BST
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has
agreed in principle a "confidence and supply" deal to support a
Deal with the DUP?
Theresa May is in talks with the
Party in Northern Ireland about forming a minority government.
The DUP holds 10 of Northern Ireland's 18 Westminster seats. DUP
leader Arlene Foster is keen to avoid a hard border with Ireland and
has spoken against a hard Brexit.
DUP chief whip Jeffrey
Donaldson: "This is perfect territory for the DUP because obviously
if the Conservatives are just short of an overall majority it puts
us in a very strong negotiating position. Certainly that is one we
would take up with relish."
Democratic Unionist Party
The DUP was founded by Ian
Paisley in 1971. The party opposed 1981 talks between Margaret
Thatcher and Irish prime minister Charles Haughey, and tried to
create a Protestant loyalist volunteer militia to fight the IRA. The
DUP opposed the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Troubles, the DUP withdrew from the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in
protest when Sinn Fein was allowed to participate while the IRA had
not been disarmed. The DUP opposed the agreement in a subsequent
referendum in which 71% of the electorate approved the agreement.
The DUP is populist and socially conservative: it is
anti-abortion, opposes same-sex marriage, and formerly campaigned
against the legalisation of homosexual acts in Northern Ireland. It
aims to defend Ulster Protestant culture against Irish nationalism
and backs Brexit.
Independent described the DUP as backed by terrorists.
The New York
Times called it a hard-line reactionary party.
Form British National Unity Government
Theresa May had decided that
Britain would never accept free movement of people or the authority
of the European Court of Justice. The UK would not remain in the
single market or even the customs union. Beyond that, her message
was — trust me and I will deliver.
The voters have said no.
But the Brexit negotiations are set to begin in less than a
fortnight. The talks cannot simply be kicked into the long grass
until the Conservative party elects a new leader. None of the
obvious successors seem likely to be unifying figures, and another
general election would probably only confirm a deeply divided
The Brexit negotiations put a high premium on having
a government that can speak firmly and unequivocally. A national
unity government, made up of ministers from both major parties,
would create a stronger negotiating position — with a softer vision
AR Forming a NUG next week
will be hard on the whips.
May Must Share Power
● Theresa May has governed
mainly through powerful cabinet committees and through her two
chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. Now both are gone, she
needs one new chief of staff who can command authority in the
● May has treated cabinet
members as instruments of her will. She should appoint a deputy
prime minister and co-govern with the Chancellor, the home
secretary, the foreign secretary, the Brexit secretary, the chief
whip, and a new party chairman.
● May needs to work more
closely with the 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady. She needs to
bring policy making closer to MPs and the Conservative Policy Forum.
The 1922 Committee should be represented on the Downing Street
● May should invite the
Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson to attend Political
Cabinet, just as Boris Johnson did when he was Mayor of London.
● Assuming that May can form a
workable minority government, she needs to try to gain as much
support as possible across the party divide.
May We Criticize?
Theresa May shunned others and tried to make a
virtue of it. She had no political friends. But her real failure was
to misunderstand the country she wanted to lead.
people to vote for her so that she might "fulfill the promise of
Brexit" and to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations. She
portrayed the Brussels bureaucrats as intent on frustrating her
attempt to free the UK from their deadening clutches. Her language
became increasingly confrontational as she hinted at something close
to a diplomatic war with the EU.
But we are not at war on the
continent. Neither are we in a position to show up at international
meetings and dominate. And yet this seemed to be the entirety of her
Brexit plan. Britain would simply state its demands and the
Europeans would agree to them — or no deal.
May seemed to
think that what people needed was to be told off and shoved in the
right direction. When she took office, she immediately set up two
vast new government departments: one to negotiate Brexit, the other
to hammer out new trade deals. Brexit was a sort of nationalism,
where everyone knew that Britain was supreme and foreigners were to
The prime minister wanted to sail the ship of
state into a future that looked very much like its glorious past.
Her worldview is fifty years out of date.
AR Before the Summer of Love?
Theresa May miscalculated badly in calling an election. She then
mismanaged the conduct of the election. She has lost public trust
and lost her authority to govern. In its merciless and underhand
way, the incoming parliamentary Conservative Party will soon be
making that clear to her. So let the sane centrists find their
collective voice now before the Europhobes and their opportunist
hitchhikers like Boris Johnson mobilize.
AR Parris detests Boris.
2017 June 9
Weak and Wobbly
As the election approached, May repeated her slogan
"strong and stable" ad nauseam, to the point that it became a joke.
The reasonable response to the election results would be for her to
resign. But Brexit negotiations are set to begin on June 19.
The front between the UK and the EU27 member states has
hardened. A Brexit without an agreement would be bitter for the EU
but disastrous for the UK. Britain could use a strong and stable
Europe Must Act
When it comes to Brexit the UK is like a
child that just will not see reason. The EU must therefore start
preparing to impose its own solution.
The Brexit referendum
campaign was waged with lies, manipulation and delusional promises,
leading millions of Britons to vote for an option that was not on
the menu: have cake and eat it.
This election could have been
the moment when Britain made a choice between have cake and sail
into hard Brexit or eat cake and accept all the rules of the single
This was not what Labour or the Conservatives
offered. Both all but avoided Brexit during the campaign. This is
the state of denial that Britain is still in.
afford to risk the integrity and coherence of the single market by
giving Britain a sweet deal. But nor can it risk total economic
meltdown in the UK.
The Evening Standard
Theresa May has been forced into a
deal with Northern Ireland MPs to save her from an ignominious
departure from 10 Downing Street.
May: "Having secured the
largest number of votes it is clear that only the Conservative and
Unionist Party has the certainty and legitimacy commanding a
majority in the House of Commons."
Conservative MPs seethed
that she had tossed away her Commons majority in a catastrophic
gamble. Many thought she would be out in two years or less.
May is now in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP is
expected to drive a hard bargain as May rang its leader to strike
the sort of bargain she had jeered at as a "coalition of chaos".
The Commons was divided as follows: Conservatives, 318 (-12);
Labour, 261 (+29); SNP, 35 (-21); Liberal Democrats, 12 (+4); DUP,
10 (+2); Others, 13. One seat is yet to call. Turnout was 32,159,240
(68.74%). UKIP was crushed and its leader quit.
A night of
shock sent sterling plunging 2% against the dollar and the euro as
the world weighed the implications for Brexit negotiations.
Donald Tusk tweet:
We don't know when Brexit talks start. We
know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a "no deal" as result
of "no negotiations".
Instant karma ..
Theresa May's gamble on a snap election failed. She has not won
a majority, but she remains prime minister until she either attempts
and fails to form a government or she resigns.
Conservatives will remain in government until it is agreed who will
try to form a new government or unless May resigns. She will have
the first go at assembling a majority.
Frantic talks are
expected over coming days as parties scramble to try and agree
deals. A new government must test whether it can command the
confidence of the House.
The Queen's speech is scheduled for
Monday June 19. Brexit talks are also set to begin on June 19.
"Wow. So good Labour stronger. So good Brutal Brexit rejected.
So good next generation realized the stakes and spoke up."
"Theresa May anointed herself Empress of Brexit.
Now her authority is shot."
Khor Al Adaid, Qatar
The New York Times
President Trump has taken sides with
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states to bully Qatar.
the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen cut ties to Qatar mainly because
Qatar has a relationship with Shiite Iran.
On Wednesday, Daesh
claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Tehran at the Iranian
parliament and the Khomeini mausoleum.
Qatar hosts the forward HQ
of US Central Command, a major intelligence hub, and a big US air
There is no sign that Trump has thought any of this
"You don't win a culture war
Conflict wanted. Goals
wanted. Dreams wanted.
a story I want
to be part of."
"I want us to have a decent
and harmonious community
Britain .. The best way of
dealing with a negative
Zeit, die Indoktrination mit
wirkungsvoll zu bekämpfen
More London horror
"The EU remains the most extraordinary,
liberal political alliance in
recorded history. It
seen unprecedented peace
and prosperity for 70 years.
It is the dream trading bloc
and a heroic project."
"The European Union must
resist the temptation to
Britain and approach
the negotiations in a
Britain is a parliamentary
democracy. Within five years
it has to hold another general
election and the next
may vote to be
reunited with Europe."
2017 June 8
Beginning: Brexit Catastrophe
The electorate is going to the polls today in a state of
blissful ignorance over the catastrophe that is about to hit the UK.
Theresa May called
an election to give herself a mandate for her version of Brexit. She
has told the electorate nothing new about how she intends to do it,
about how Britons will be poorer and more highly taxed if she keeps
to her plan to leave both the single market and the customs union,
or the devastation that will follow if she walks away from the table
without a deal. Her victory will be based on evasion and soothing
Her decision to interpret 52% as licence for a hard
Brexit is as outrageous as if the Remainers had won a narrow victory
and immediately decided to join the euro, the Schengen travel area,
and an EU army, declaring that no discussion was needed because this
was the people's will.
For a year we have been in a phoney
Brexit. Six months ago we were the fastest-growing economy in the
G7, but figures from the G7 last week show we are tying with Italy
for the slowest growth as the EZ forges ahead of us. HM Treasury
says an agreed Brexit will make us £36 billion a year poorer by 2032
and a no-deal exit will cost £45 billion.
May and her people
view the EU as opponents. Under her government the Brexit fires are
starting to burn.
2017 June 7
White House advisers HR McMaster and Gary
Cohn write: "The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a
clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a 'global community' but an
arena where nations, non-governmental actors and businesses engage
and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched
military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather
than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace
Earth is not just an arena. It is our shared home. It
does not belong to one nation, even a powerful one. Looking after
the planet is the moral responsibility of all.
AR Wolf is right, of course.
Theresa May has had trouble spelling out what
a post-EU Britain would look like. Brexiteers propose recapturing
the spirit of an earlier Elizabethan age, when plucky English
buccaneers forged pathways to the New World. This is a delusion.
The elites, not the people, have led the British retreat from
Europe and the world. Most of them started their careers as student
political hacks, and the ties they forged nourished their political
careers. What they lacked in global experience they substituted with
Brussels could cope with a nasty divorce.
Britain could not. Yet May
seems to be going out of her way to rub the Europeans the wrong way.
Thanks to her, the EU27 are now of one mind.
AR May must see this.
2017 June 6
Islamist terrorism is not a perversion of Islam.
The West equates religion with spirituality. But Islam is as much a
political ideology as a source of spiritual guidance.
Mohammad Tawhidi: "The scriptures are exactly what is pushing these
people to behead the infidel. Our books teach the beheading of
Jihadist Islam is dominant once again in the Muslim
world. Islamists believe their values represent the word of God. For
them, no other values can possibly be superior.
We must see
jihadist Islam as at the extreme end of a continuum of beliefs that
are incompatible with British society. We should close down radical
mosques, deport those born in other countries who are involved in
extremism, stop foreign funding for Muslim institutions, and ban the
Muslim Brotherhood. We should also outlaw Sharia courts.
Jihadist terrorists are not trying to divide us, destroy our values,
or stop the general election. They are trying to kill us and conquer
AR Islamism is a global
military threat. Kill the jihadis before they kill us. And forget
the British spin — they threaten all Western societies. Unite or be
For a long time I could not bring myself to
write about the British election. The June 8 vote was a formality.
The Labour Party was in meltdown. The British, their ludicrous vote
to leave the European Union gradually sinking in, would give May her
Suddenly, we have an election after all. The
expected Tory landslide has evaporated. May embraced a hard Brexit
and came up with a dementia tax to punish people for living too
long. Opinion polls now put Corbyn within a few percentage points of
A Labour victory would punish the Tories for the
disaster of Brexit.
AR It would
also lead to chaos and confusion — economic mayhem, loss of control
of national debt, rank amateurs in government, weakness on Russia
and Islam — not good.
2017 June 5
We are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face.
Perpetrators are copying one another and often using crude means of
attack. Things need to change:
The recent attacks are connected by the evil ideology of Islamist
extremism. It is an ideology that claims our western values are
incompatible with Islam. It will only be defeated when we make
people understand that our values are superior to anything offered
by the preachers and supporters of hate.
2 We cannot allow this ideology the safe
space it needs to breed. We need to work with allied democratic
governments to prevent the spread of extremism. And we need to do
everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.
3 There is far too much tolerance of
extremism in our country. We need to become far more robust in
identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and
across society. The whole of our country needs to come together to
take on this extremism.
4 We have
a robust counter-terrorism strategy. We need to review our strategy
to make sure the police and security services have all the powers
they need. We may need to increase the length of custodial sentences
for terrorist-related offences.
Our country has made progress
in disrupting plots and protecting the public. Our society should
continue to function in accordance with our values. We must come
together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and
defeat our enemies.
AR United in
solidarity with other Europeans facing the same threat.
2017 June 4
Erik Hoel has published an
essay that aims to explain how consciousness and agency arise.
He claims that causes can emerge at macroscopic scales, and that
macro states of a physical system such as a brain can have more
causal power than a micro description of the system.
shows that macro scales gain causal power rather like
error-correcting codes increase the amount of information that can
be sent over data channels. Macro states reduce noise and
uncertainty in a causal structure, making system behavior more
Giulio Tononi conceives of consciousness as
information encoded not in the states of individual neurons but in
the complex networking of neurons into ensembles in the brain. His
integrated information theory (IIT) aims to characterize
Tononi tasked Hoel with exploring the
mathematical relationship between the size of neural groups and
information. Hoel quantified the causal power of brain states by
measuring causation in bits. His measure, effective information
(EI), is simpler and more general than integrated information.
Scott Aaronson: "It was hard for me to find anything in the
essay that the world's most orthodox reductionist would disagree
with. Yes, of course you want to pass to higher abstraction layers
in order to make predictions, and to tell causal stories that are
predictively useful — and the essay explains some of the reasons
Physicists say causation starts with interactions
between elementary particles. It originates at the micro level and
is merely easier to discuss at the macro level.
AR I tried to explain my
Mindworlds model of
consciousness to Aaronson at TSC
2001 (Skoevde) and to Tononi at
ASSC XIII (Berlin,
2017 June 3
On Earth, 4 billion years of evolution led
eventually to technology and the world we live in today. The
direction of travel is almost certainly toward a posthuman world.
After a few millennia of gradually expanding technology generated by
human beings, maybe there will be billions of years more when the
dominant technology is entirely inorganic.
Mars is far less
clement than the South Pole, and not many people want to live there.
Robots are becoming more sophisticated, and all the science can be
done by robots just as well as by human beings. Huge fabricators up
in space will assemble telescope dishes and solar energy collectors.
The collective effect that we are having as a species is causing
changes to the atmosphere and the climate. A second class of threats
arises because the world of things is more interconnected. The
biotechnology issue is scary too.
Scientific advisors have a
limited impact on political leaders. The Pope raised concerns about
the risks to biodiversity and to climate from the heavier footprint
of the rising human population and said people have an obligation to
nature. That statement was an important input to the Paris
conference on climate change in December 2015.
Brexit is the most important single
development in British foreign policy since declaring war on Germany
in 1939, and arguably the worst unforced error ever in British
Britain is leaving the EU on the absurd assumption
that the EU-27 will give it a sweetheart deal. Since 1940, the UK
has ridden tall on US power, but this free ride is gone with America
AR Millions of British
voters expressed indifference or contempt for the European idea in June 2016.
Nationally, this was a shameful revelation of factual ignorance and moral
2017 June 2
A Disgraceful Exit
The New York Times
President Trump has an incredibly
shortsighted approach to climate change. He said the Paris agreement
was a bad deal for the United States. Yet it is a voluntary
agreement under which more than 190 countries offered aspirational
emissions targets, pledged their best efforts to meet them, and
agreed to give periodic updates on how they were doing.
clearly knows nothing or cares little about the science underlying
the stark warnings of environmental disruption, about the problems
that disruption could bring, or about the fact that America has a
special obligation to help the rest of the world address these
Trump clings to the false narrative that
environmental regulations are job killers, that efforts to curb
carbon dioxide emissions will hurt the economy, that the way forward
lies in yet more burning of fossil fuels. Yet the global transition
from fossil fuels has opened up a huge market estimated at $6
trillion by 2030, for renewable fuels, electric cars, and new
Big economic benefits flow from protecting
human health and the environment. Technologies are improving and the
business community is ready. About two-thirds of Americans are
worried about climate change and wanted to stay in the Paris
The Weather Channel greeted the White House news
with every ounce of righteous outrage it deserved. Its top nine
stories were all devoted to the topic. Two of them covered the
announcement. The other seven methodically explained exactly why it was so misguided and why it
The Weather Channel network has concluded
that climate change poses a threat that transcends partisan
politics. Its stories illustrated the damage climate change is
poised to wreak and gave a science-based refutation of the
notion that the threat is overstated or hypothetical.
Third LIGO Detection
The LIGO collaboration has made its third
observation of gravitational waves emanating from a pair of merging
black holes. This pair was about 3 billion light years away.
LIGO detects ripples in spacetime caused by moving masses. The spins
of merging black holes can warp those waveforms, which are mostly
produced by their orbits and eventual collision.
first event, we did not have enough information to determine spin
direction of the black holes. For the second, we saw that each black
hole was probably spinning in the same direction. For this third
pair, they are probably spinning in different directions.
Black hole binaries are either born together from a pair of orbiting stars or
they form separately in a stellar cluster and drift
together. In the first case, the pair should rotate in the same
direction as they orbit. In the second, they can point in any
2017 June 1
Global Enemy #1
pulls America out of the Paris agreement.
Zooming the Sun
Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 6 Gm of the surface of
the Sun, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it.
Launching in 2018, PSP will provide new data on solar activity and
increase our ability to forecast major space weather events that
impact life on Earth.
explores the last and most important region of the solar system to
be visited by a scientific spacecraft. The National
Academy of Sciences estimates that without advance warning a huge
solar event could cause $2 trillion in damage in the United States
Physics of Time
General Relativity and the Standard Model are
based on time-symmetric laws. The eternal cosmos spanning all of
spacetime is sometimes called the block universe.
Andreas Albrecht says that to understand the distinction between
past, present and future, you have to ask how an observer perceives
Avshalom Elitzur: "The future does not exist ..
Ontologically, it's not there."
Lee Smolin: "The future is
not now real and there can be no definite facts of the matter about
Sean Carroll: "The entropy of the universe will
be larger tomorrow than it is today. But if that was all you knew,
you'd also say that the entropy of the universe was probably larger
yesterday than today — because all the underlying dynamics are
completely symmetric with respect to time."
George Ellis says
the universe is a growing volume of spacetime. Its surface is the
present moment and represents the instant where the indefiniteness
of the future changes to the definiteness of the past. One can see
the direction of time by looking at which part of the universe is
fixed (the past) and which is changing (the future). This is a GR
block universe with a future boundary in the present.
Sorkin says that in causal set theory spacetime is discrete rather
than continuous. Planck scale atoms of spacetime form a partially
ordered set. The number of these atoms gives rise to the volume of
spacetime, while their sequence gives rise to time. New spacetime
atoms are continually coming into existence.
AR I'm writing a paper on the physics of time — and I pretty much agree with all the
For me, getting it right means abandoning the whole stupid idea.
"Anyone who today puts
on national blinkers and no
eyes for the world
around him is, I am convinced,
out on a limb."
Angela Merkel has made by
some margin the
assertion of historical meaning
over the seismic
of 2016 in Britain and America.
is that they mark
the end of an era, 1945-2016,
Western nations of
the world were reliable
on one another.
German foreign minister
of migration will only increase
as a result of
the departure of
the new US government from
the Western policy
The short-sighted policy of
is against the interests of
the European Union."
Theresa May will try to woo
working-class voters this week.
She will seize on aggressive
Brexit demands from
to insist that only she can negotiate a good deal.
tell voters concerned about immigration and
that their views have been
ridiculed and ignored
for too long.
selber für unsere Zukunft
kämpfen, als Europäer,
für unser Schicksal."
Angela Merkel: "Die Zeiten,
in denen wir
uns auf andere
völlig verlassen konnten,
die sind ein Stück vorbei
Wir Europäer müssen unser
Schicksal wirklich in unsere
Diskussion über Klimaschutz
UK threat level critical
Troops patrol streets
President Richard Nixon
went to Saudi Arabia and
June 1974 to change
the domestic narrative. He
Horror in Manchester
Suicide bomb attack at
Ariana Grande concert:
22 killed, 59 injured
2017 May 31
No Deal Is No Option
Angela Merkel has a record of 11 years in
office. To her, Brexit looks mad. Germany is a leading global
exporter and a stalwart EU member without one contradicting the
The Brexit vote has changed perceptions of the UK on
the world stage. The British look volatile, uncooperative, nationalistic. Now
Merkel has lumped Britain in with America as an unreliable
For decades EU leaders bridled at British tabloid
caricatures of their meetings as a conspiracy against plucky Albion.
But they accepted assurances that this was pantomime. It did not
occur to them that the tabloid view of the European project might
become official UK policy.
Boris Johnson is despised in
Brussels as a prime peddler of Europhobic myths. Making him foreign
secretary was read as a hostile act by Theresa May. Since then, she
has shown no new understanding of Europe and little grasp of what is
realistically available from an Article 50 deal.
Commission has published detailed draft negotiating positions on the
rights of EU citizens in the UK and on budget liabilities. The talks
begin on June 19. David Davis seems relaxed, but his department
cannot match the EU apparatus for experience and capacity.
Insisting that no deal is better than a bad deal is nonsense. The
line is popular and has intuitive appeal. But the UK is not buying a
deal from the EU. If the talks fail, Brexit ends in a train wreck.
May is either bluffing or delusional. The rest of the world
knows this and fears the consequences. Merkel has resorted to
voicing that anxiety in public.
2017 May 30
We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with
Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military.
Very bad for U.S. This will change
3:40 AM - 30 May 2017
European Defense Strategy
President Trump is ready to put American
business interests before those of Planet Earth or of Europeans
facing down Russia. If it comes to a fight, America will be last,
The EU powers and the British government need a
new strategy. Angela Merkel sees this. Her speech should lead Europe
to consolidate around the EZ core and liberal values.
Britain, set on a catastrophic exit from the EU single market, must
wake up. When the UK was the dominant world power, playing one
European power against another may have been fun. After 1945, the
urge to stand aloof from Europe and seek to divide it is fatal.
We need to defuse the Brexit bomb fast. The current UK
government includes amateurs who dream of a new trading empire and
nationalists who jeer at the idea of a European army.
shows the current strategy of NATO is a dead letter. From 1939 to
1941, the UK had to fight as a European power to survive. Europe
needs more security cooperation.
Brextremists often say the EU economy is
weak and the UK economy can boom by leaving it. In fact, Brexit
threatens to make matters worse.
British economic growth
between 2000 and 2015 lagged behind Spain and Germany. In 2015
Britain ranked only slightly ahead of France. UK wages have risen by
much less than French and German wages over the last 15 years, and
Brits have to work longer hours than the French or the Germans to
earn as much. Since 2000, poorer regions of Britain have not been
catching up with richer EU regions but falling further behind.
A successful labor market requires skilled workers, access to
housing, and good quality infrastructure. A significantly higher
proportion of young British adults suffer from weak literacy and
numeracy than those in France, Germany, Italy, or Spain. The UK is
building around half as many houses as it did 40 years ago, and has
invested less in roads, railways, and air travel than other large EU
economies over the last 20 years.
Outside the EU, Britain
will trade less with member states. Brexit threatens to make a
mediocre economic performance even worse.
Merkel in Munich
Speaking at an election rally in Munich,
Angela Merkel came close to announcing the death of the Western
alliance. But her speech was a blunder for at least five reasons:
1 It is a mistake to allow the Trump
presidency to throw into doubt an alliance that has kept the peace
in Europe for 70 years. It is possible that Trump is an aberration
and will soon be out of office.
Trump was right about the failure of most European countries to meet
NATO targets on military expenditure. It is unsustainable for the US
to account for most of NATO defense spending.
3 By implying that NATO is now coming
apart, Merkel has compounded the error Trump made. Encouraging the
Russian government in this way reduces European security.
4 Merkel was unwise and unfair to
bracket Britain with America. The UK sided with the EU against the
US on climate change. The UK government upholds the British
commitment to NATO.
5 Pursuit of
the Brexit negotiations in a similar spirit would risk creating
lasting antagonism between Britain and the EU. A hard Brexit could
weaken the British commitment to NATO.
Merkel chose a
beer-tent in Bavaria to announce a separation from the UK and the US
while bracketing those two countries with Russia.
AR She was
2017 May 29
Every Word a Winner
Annett Meiritz, Anna Reimann, Severin Weiland
Angela Merkel in a Munich beer tent: "We must fight for our
future, as Europeans, for our destiny."
Merkel is now
regarded as a leader of the liberal world. Her beer tent speech
breaks with her previous caution over the US president. Her hopes
are fading for constructive cooperation with Trump.
says "America First" and means Europe must do more in future. Merkel
and her foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel agree on more defense
spending — controversial in Germany.
Global and European
politics will be important in the German election campaign. Merkel
now poses as a champion for Europe against Trump.
betting on France. She and President Emmanuel Macron will push for a
roadmap of reforms. Gabriel has a plan to invest more in EZ
defense and foreign policy.
fusion can be the core of a historic union as strong and stable as China.
Merkel v Trump
The New York Times
German Chancellor Angela Merkel,
Europe's most influential leader, has apparently concluded that the
United States of President Trump is no longer as reliable as it once
Merkel: "We Europeans must really take our fate into our
own hands — of course in friendship with the United States of
America, in friendship with Great Britain, and as good neighbors
wherever possible also with other countries."
discussion about climate was very unsatisfactory — six against one.
Trump refused to endorse the Paris climate accord, scolded
Germany for its trade practices, and lectured NATO members for not
spending enough on defense.
Trump tweet: "Just returned from
Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big
Presidency in Peril
If Donald Trump leaves office before four
years are up, this month might turn out to be the turning point. New
revelations surround whether he colluded with Russia. His troubles
will only grow.
Impeachable offenses are political questions.
An impeachment of a president is grounded in the theory that the
holder of that office has failed to fulfill his responsibility to
take care that the laws be faithfully executed. This prevents a
president from setting a tone that leads to acts by his aides that
amount to a violation of constitutional government.
the most unhappy White House staff ever. He is a nearly impossible
person to work for and screams at his staff when they tell him
something he doesn't want to hear. People who have been to the Oval
Office have come away stunned by his minimal attention span, his
appalling lack of information, his tendency to say more than he
The survival of Trump's presidency may depend on
congressional Republicans. Their challenge is how to overcome the
blights of Trump's chaotic governing and his lack of achievements on
Capitol Hill. His sole substantive accomplishment thus far is House
approval of a health care overhaul that will throw tens of millions
of people off of health insurance.
Trump is in some ways a
cannier politician than Nixon. He knows how to lie to his people to
keep them behind him. But he cannot keep blaming his failures on
2017 May 28
Ingrid D. Rowland
On Halloween 1517, Martin Luther,
Augustinian friar and professor of theology, posted a broadsheet on
the faculty bulletin board of Wittenberg University in Saxony. The
poster proclaimed a series of propositions that questioned the basic
beliefs of the Catholic Church.
theses set off the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation.
Friar Martin focused his ire on the sale of indulgences. These papal
dispensations grew out of a traditional medieval conviction that
prayer, repentance, good works, and pilgrimage could atone in some
measure for sin.
The sale of indulgences became an industry
in Saxony. Pope Julius II and the Augsburg banker Jakob Fugger
directed the revenue from German indulgences toward the rebuilding
of Saint Peter's in Rome. Penitents put coins in indulgence chests,
iron-bound coffers like giant armored piggy banks.
was driven by a spiritual insight. The Christian hope for eternal
life, he believed, was a divine gift that no human being, no matter
how virtuous, could ever deserve. Salvation was a gift from God,
bestowed by divine grace.
Luther survived the
firestorm his theses ignited not only because of his courage and
eloquence but also because the local sovereign, Elector Frederick
III of Saxony, sided with him. The archbishop of Mainz, Albert of
Brandenburg, sided against and reported on the theses to Pope Leo X.
The pope summoned Friar Martin to Rome but the friar demurred.
An interview was arranged in Augsburg in 1518. The inquisitor
was a cardinal under instructions to make Luther recant or to arrest
him and drag him back to Rome. But Luther stood his ground and the
cardinal let him go.
In the following years, Luther
proclaimed his views in torrents of prose and poetry in both Latin
and German, and spread them as widely as the printing press could
reach. He married the runaway nun Katharina von Bora, who bore him
AR Halloween 2017 —
mark your calendar!
2017 May 27
Donald Trump wrecked the G7 summit: After
endless wrangling, only a meager communiqué emerged.
did not want to commit clearly to the Paris climate agreement. He
portrayed the fight against terrorism as more important in a tweet:
"Terrorism is at the top of the list." He blocked progress on free
trade and criticized the Germans for running a trade surplus with
AR Mr Nyet should take
more care of his levers of global power.
G7 leaders call on internet giants to crack down on
extremist content. But they failed to agree on climate change — US
president Donald Trump refused to endorse the 2015 Paris accord on
reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Trump and UK prime minister
Theresa May talked trade.
G7: Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, UK and US.
German Cars Are Better
US president Donald Trump: "I don't have
a problem with Germany, I have a problem with German trade. Look at
the millions of cars they sell in the US. Terrible. We'll stop it."
German manufacturers exported 670,000 cars and light trucks to
the US last year. BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Volkswagen produced
809,000 vehicles at their US plants. US auto imports from Germany,
worth $22 billion, were 3.8% of all US auto imports in 2016.
EU president Donald Tusk: "This is going to be the most challenging
G7 meeting in years. It is no secret that some leaders have
different positions on climate, on trade .. Most importantly, we
have to defend the rule-based international order."
economic adviser Gary Cohn: "He wants to understand how we can bring
back manufacturing, bring back jobs, but still be environmentally
friendly, but not have a restriction enforced upon us that makes
absolutely no sense."
make the best cars, Americans make the best weapons. This
illustrates the Ricardo theory of comparative advantage and shows
why global free trade is best.
2017 May 26
Members of the alliance must finally
contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations:
23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be
paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defense.
Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today's very
real and very vicious threats. If NATO countries made their full and
complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is
today, especially from the threat of terrorism.
The NATO of
the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration.
You have thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various
countries. We must be tough. We must be strong. And we must be
AR Trump is losing
friends in NATO.
Quantum Dark Energy
Dark energy was conjured up to explain what
is pushing the universe apart ever faster. It seems to be spread
evenly through space at a density of a few GeV/m^3.
mechanics (QM) says the vacuum is filled with jittering quantum
fields. Calculations suggest a dark energy density way too high, so
perhaps the fields tend to cancel out on big scales.
relativity (GR) says energy is absorbed and released all the time by
the flexing of spacetime. Overall balance is preserved, but the fine
details remain mysterious.
GR and QM see the fundamental
structure of the cosmos differently. GR sees 4D spacetime as smooth
and continuous, but QM implies that on a small scale space is made
up of discrete units. No unified theory of quantum gravity exists.
Perhaps particles feel the granularity of spacetime as friction
and lose energy into space. If so, the matter in the universe has
been losing energy steadily since a fraction of a second ABB. But
the resulting estimate for dark energy strength is still way off.
Quantum cosmology lets the early universe be in a superposition
of many sizes and states at once. The precision with which we can
know the rate the universe is accelerating is uncertain, with
consequences for all other variables that depend on that rate, such
as the density of dark energy.
I vote for uncertain acceleration and dark energy as a rounding
2017 May 25
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: "I view President Trump with
increasing sympathy. I think he is beginning to sense the wind of
NATO v Daesh
NATO leaders are expected to agree to
join the US-led coalition against Daesh today as US president Donald Trump
visits NATO headquarters in Brussels. NATO allies anticipate
that he will publicly endorse NATO Article 5 mutual defence
guarantee for the first time in Brussels.
Trump has pressed
allies to intensify NATO counter-terror efforts, a demand backed by
the UK. Germany and France had resisted joining the coalition
against Daesh, but each of the 28 NATO members is already in the
coalition. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said allies were
still discussing whether NATO should join.
UK prime minister Theresa May: "We must redouble our
resolve to meet the threats to our shared security whether from
terrorism or Russia .. unity in responding to common strengths is
our most potent weapon."
2017 May 24
Terrorists Target Children
The New York Times
The suicide bombing in Manchester,
England, on Monday night that killed young fans of the pop star
Ariana Grande is wrenching.
Daesh claimed responsibility for
the bombing. British police officials believe the suicide was Salman
Abedi, 22, whose parents emigrated from Libya. This attack is an
attempt to provoke a thirst for vengeance and a desire for safety
that sweeps away the most cherished democratic and inclusive values.
Daesh wants to watch Western democracies embrace its mad version of
a holy war pitting Muslims against Christians.
AR NYT published leaked details that
hinder ongoing British law enforcement operations. This will have
implications for UK-US security cooperation going forward.
Service and Care
President Trump met with Pope Francis. Trump described the
meeting as a great honor.
A Vatican statement confirmed their
joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and
conscience, and called for collaboration between the State and the
Catholic Church in the United States in service to the people in the
fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.
Francis gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on caring for the
Nearly 7 out of 10 people in the UK
support the creation of a form of world government to deal with
major risks facing the world. Over 6 in 10 say they consider
themselves global citizens.
A survey interviewed 8,100 people
in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Africa, the UK
and US. The survey found nearly 9 in 10 supported taking action on
In the UK, over 8 in 10 agreed climate change
could be a global catastrophe. A majority (54%) said they would be
happy for the UK to give up some sovereignty to address such
The Trump Budget
President Trump will call on Congress to
push through $3.6 trillion of spending cuts in order to balance the
federal budget in 10 years. He proposes a range of cuts in welfare
outlays and healthcare support for poorer families, while sheltering
the military, social security, and Medicare.
The first Trump budget appears to contain a logical error of the
kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory
Apparently, the budget forecasts that US
growth will rise to 3% by 2021 thanks to proposed tax cuts and
regulatory policies. Then the administration asserts that it will
propose revenue-neutral tax cuts, with the revenue neutrality coming
in part because the tax cuts stimulate growth.
to be the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget
in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.
president's economic team is failing. Claims about tax cuts not
favoring the rich, claims made for the deal negotiated last week
with China, the ridiculous estimate of the costs of Dodd-Frank, or
the new budget — not one of them meets a minimal standard of
competence and honesty.
2017 May 23
God of Israel
"The ties of the Jewish people to this
holy land are ancient and eternal .. Israel is testament to the
unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people .. My administration will
always stand with Israel."
Donald Trump, Jerusalem
God of Go
The New York Times
The world’s best player of Go has been
defeated by an AI program. Chinese champion Ke Jie, 19, was defeated
by AlphaGo, developed by Google division DeepMind. Ke: "Last year,
it was still quite humanlike when it played, but this year, it
became like a god of Go."
Time in Islam
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Islamic conception of time is that
mere chronology is irrelevant in comparison with the theological
sense of eternity. What matters is only the Hereafter, and thus
heaven and hell. Mere terrestrial time is seen as limited and
relatively insignificant, a stepping stone to the infinite. This is
the core of Islam. So working hard and making money, or recreational
things like going to the pub or watching soccer or going to the
movies — all this is rejected as sinful or futile.
AR The Prophet contemplated eternity on
clear nights on a mountaintop.
Time in Physics
In special relativity, the time directions
are structurally different from the space directions. In the
timelike directions, you have a further distinction into the future
and the past, whereas any spacelike direction can be continuously
rotated into any other spacelike direction. The two classes of
timelike directions cannot be continuously transformed into one
If time had no direction, that would make
time into just another spatial dimension. I can imagine a 4D spatial
object, but nothing happens in it. This is the way people often talk
about the block universe. I believe that the past is as real as the
present, which is as real as the future. Things that happened in the
past were just as real. If that is all it means to believe in a
block universe, fine.
The block universe is a rigid
structure. The totality of concrete physical reality specifies that
4D structure and what happens everywhere in it. In Newtonian
mechanics, this object is foliated by planes of absolute
simultaneity. And in relativity you have a light cone structure
instead. So it has a different geometrical character. But the idea
that the block universe is static drives me crazy.
to pass means for events to be linearly ordered, by earlier and
later. The causal structure of the world depends on its temporal
structure. To understand the later states, you look at the earlier
states and not the other way around. The direction of causation is
also the direction of explanation. Time is a fundamental feature of
AR Time is basic in
physics. Quantum mechanics points to a better understanding. The key
is to get the math right — my work in progress on the foundations of
quantum theory has a lot of math in it so I am writing it
anew in TeX (MacTeX, via arXiv).
President Trump in Israel — his
message to Benjamin Netanyahu: If Israel really wants
peace with its Arab neighbors,
the cost will be resolving the
standoff with the Palestinians.
"On those issues, there is a
strong consensus among the nations of the world — including many in
the Muslim world.
I was deeply encouraged by my conversations
with Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia, including King Salman,
who .. would love to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians."
Crazy Nut Job
Trump told Russian officials
pressure: "He was crazy,
a real nut job."
PDF, 88 pages
"We do not believe in
untrammelled free markets.
We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We see rigid
and ideology not just
as needless but dangerous ..
we can and must
take this opportunity to
build a great
here in Britain."
PDF, 28 pages
"Never, never, never give up."
"Never, never, never give in."
Robert Mueller will lead
the FBI investigation into
Russian meddling in the
2016 presidential election.
Mueller was FBI director from
2001 to 2013. Barack Obama
called him the gold standard
for leading the bureau.
2017 May 22
Saudis v Iran
Donald Trump in Riyadh on Iran: "It is a
government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction
of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations
in this room."
Saudi Arabia and Iran remain the most powerful
countries in the Mideast. Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin
Salman rejects talks with Iran: "We will not wait until the battle
is in Saudi Arabia but we will work so the battle is there in Iran."
Concerns about Iran help explain the warm welcome in Riyadh for
Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices, high
unemployment, widespread corruption, and war in Yemen.
will not soon reform. Moderate president Hassan Rouhani has been
re-elected but an imperial foreign policy employs militant groups
such as Hizbollah and Hamas to project armed force.
Arabia and its conservative Sunni allies will be hard pressed to
match Iran even with their new US arms. Saudi-Iranian relations
could all too easily take a turn for the worse.
Trump On Islam
President Trump managed his speech on
Islam in Saudi Arabia without mistakes. He quoted from the Koran,
praised Islamic culture, and heralded a new beginning: "America and
Islam are not mutually exclusive and are not in competition with
Trump is right that the Mideast does not fufill
its potential, but terrorism is only partly to blame. Corruption,
cronyism, and discrimination hold back the Muslim world. The
greatest fear for people in poorer Muslim countries is failing to
find a job or to feed the family.
In Saudi Arabia bibles and
crosses are forbidden and no other faith than Sunni Islam can be
lived freely. For the Saudi rulers, a Muslim who publicly renounces
Islam is a terrorist but a Muslim who blows up in a bus in Jerusalem
is a martyr.
2017 May 21
Battle Between Good and Evil
Our goal is a coalition of nations who share
the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a
hopeful future that does honor to God.
This is not a battle
between different faiths, different sects, or different
civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek
to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who
seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.
There is still much work to be done. That means honestly confronting
the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror
of all kinds. We must stop what they are doing. Drive them out of
your places of worship, drive them out of your holy land.
Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely
invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of
Trump went off script to cite Islamic extremism and Islamic
2017 May 20
in my bed between slumbers,
My thoughts swirled around complex
They made an equation
With artful persuasion
conjured up dreams full of wonders.
A limerick for math can
You just have to do a small sum.
I did one with phi
And imaginary i,
Thought Euler and just let it run.
was an equation well wrought:
E power i phi as first thought,
Then minus cos phi,
Minus i by sin phi,
To find that it all
comes to nought.
Not long after the Big Bang, a hydrogen fog
pervaded the early universe and snuffed out the light of the first
stars and galaxies. For hundreds of millions of years, they were all
but invisible. Eventually this fog burned off as UV light reionized
In the first years ABB, free
particles flew about scattering light. At about 380 ky ABB, they
cooled enough to form H atoms, which clumped into stars. The first
hot stars started the reionization, but they soon died, and later
stars were dimmer and cooler.
Supermassive black holes power
quasars. Because quasars emit way more hard radiation than stars do,
they may have reionized the universe. Astronomers have found faint
quasars at around 1 Gy ABB and evidence for quasars back to 600 My
AR The past was a violent
Hatred, Insanity, Absolute Rubbish
The British government will always hate me.
They will never forgive me for being successful.
A wave of
insanity overcame the political classes of Europe. Europe is not the
EU. I am working for a real Europe, one that does not attempt to
take away from individual member states their national identity.
We British are not allowed to have our own foreign policy. We
are not allowed to have our own trade policy. We have to break this
down. The EU is dying. The whole project is finished.
with the Russian Embassy's deputy chief-of-mission in London in
2013. I said I admire Vladimir Putin. As a political operator, he
was the best in the world.
I never received a penny from
Russia. My campaign was not about money but about messages. I appear
on Russia Today twice a year, or three times last year.
went to meet Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for
journalistic reasons. I met with him very briefly. We talked about a
lot of things.
I used to do politics 100 hours a week. But
now I do politics for 40 hours a week, so I have got a lot of time
to do other things. I am a Fox News contributor. I am an LBC
presenter. I write.
The EU wants to expand to the east and
threatens Russia. I want the EU to be destroyed. The EU is an
anti-democratic, failing structure.
Brexit is the best thing.
The idea that the EU is good for the economy is absolute rubbish.
2017 May 19
The next five years are the most challenging
that Britain has faced in my lifetime.
Brexit will define us.
Now more than ever,
● Britain needs a strong and
● Britain needs strong and
● Britain needs a clear plan
I believe our United Kingdom can emerge from this period of
great national change stronger and more prosperous than ever before.
I believe we can be a country that stands tall in the world and
provides leadership on some of the greatest challenges of our time.
I believe we can — and must — take this opportunity to build a
Great Meritocracy here in Britain.
Five giant challenges:
1 A strong economy that works for
We need to make the most of our existing
strengths, invest in infrastructure and people, and ensure that the
whole of our economy across the whole of our country can grow.
Without a strong economy, we cannot guarantee our security, our
personal prosperity, our public services, or contented and
A strong and united nation
in a changing world
We need to deliver a smooth and
orderly departure from the EU and forge a deep and special
partnership with our friends and allies across Europe. As there is
increasingly little distinction between domestic and international
affairs in matters of migration, national security and the economy,
Britain must stay strong and united — and take a lead in the world
to defend our interests.
For too many people, where you end up
in life is still determined by where you were born and to whom. We
need to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most
of their talents and hard work, whoever you are and wherever you are
4 A restored
contract between the generations
We need to respond to
the reality of an ageing society, giving people security in old age
and caring for those with long-term health conditions, while making
sure we are fair to younger generations.
Prosperity and security in a digital age
sake of our economy and our society, we need to harness the power of
fast-changing technology, while ensuring that our security and
personal privacy — and the welfare of children and younger people —
Theresa May nennt das
Tory-Parteiprogramm ein Porträt Großbritanniens nach dem Brexit.
May hat die Einwanderung als ein Grundproblem definiert, das den
sozialen Zusammenhalt unterminiert. Deshalb wird sie die
Beschäftigungsbedingungen für ausländische Arbeitnehmer in Zukunft
Für den Moment betrifft diese Regelung nur
Nicht-EU-Bürger. Aber die Uhr tickt. Am 30. März 2019 werden
auch die EU-Ausländer voraussichtlich nur noch
einfache Ausländer sein. Dann gehen britische Bürger endgültig vor.
May wird das Reich in eine neue Richtung führen, mit harter
Ich will nicht in einem ausländerfeindlichen Königreich wohnen.
European Maritime Day 2017
Poole, UK, May 18-19, 2017
European Maritime Day is the
annual meeting point for Europe's maritime community to network,
discuss and forge joint action.
The Future of our Seas
Welcome to European Maritime Day 2017. As
it does every year, this conference brings together Europe's
maritime community to exchange ideas and forge partnerships needed
for the blue economy.
From maritime spatial planning to the fight against
illegal fishing, ocean mapping to marine science, habitat
conservation to regional strategies, our collective initiatives have
transformed the way Europe goes about the maritime business.
This year's theme introduces corporate responsibility as
one of the pivotal aspects of sustainability. It therefore strives
to secure commitment not just from governments and NGOs but also
from business leaders all over the world.
Welcome to Poole
Poole is proud to be the host of the
prestigious European Maritime Day conference this year. The program for the
conference at Lighthouse Poole is extensive. In support of European
Maritime Day, Poole has created an interesting and diverse business
program to enable its
local and regional businesses to be part of the event and maximize the opportunities for the region.
is a Conservative councillor and Leader of the Council, Borough of
Poole. I have worked in close coordination with her since 2014.
2017 May 18
Is Trump Toast?
Donald Trump came to the presidency skilled
in the art of deceit. More than forty years ago, Roy Cohn, who lived
for decades under various indictments for bribery, extortion, and
other sins, and yet always managed to escape conviction, instructed
the ambitious young man in the dark arts.
Trump the businessman was spurned by the New York business
community less for his cartoonish flamboyance than for his
dishonesty and meanness of character. He stiffed contractors and
workers, screwed creditors, violated casino regulations, promoted
scams, and bragged of charitable contributions he never made.
In the past two weeks, a presidency of ideological meanness and
unsurpassing incompetence has moved on. The usual comparison is with
the Nixon presidency in the Watergate era.
Nixon aide Roger
Stone was a political mentor to Trump. Roy Cohn introduced Stone to
Trump, and Stone helped Trump see the political advantage in many
sleazy tactics and alliances. Since then, Trump has been the focus
of investigations on housing discrimination, bribery, corruption,
dealings with the mob, misleading earnings reports, fraud, and
improper campaign contributions.
The Trump presidency may
well end before 2021.
The 25th Amendment
The US presidency is not just another
office. Donald Trump has charisma, cunning, an instinct for the
jugular, a common touch, and a certain creativity. But they are not
The presidency now has kinglike qualities, and we
have a child upon the throne. It is a child who blurts out
classified information in order to impress distinguished visitors or
who asks the head of the FBI why the rules cannot be suspended for
his friend and ally. A child also cannot really commit high crimes
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution
allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a
majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is unable to
discharge the powers and duties of his office and (should the
president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress
confirms the judgment.
I respectfully ask leading Republicans
to reconsider their support for Trump.
Eurasian eagle owl
Philosophie ihr Grau in Grau malt, dann ist eine Gestalt des Lebens
.. die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der
einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug."
Washington fällt das
Poole protest vote
1987 — 2007
2017 May 17
Most people know Donald Trump is unfit to be
commander-in-chief. But no elected Republican has
dared to act. Over a quarter of Americans are diehard
Trump draws power from alternative
narratives. Whenever the elites express outrage at his actions, his
supporters take pleasure in their anguish. Trump is delivering on
what he promised.
Republicans may bide their time until
midterm elections. If polls were held today Republicans would lose
control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate.
Then they would act.
Republicans stand for national security
and the moral fiber of American leadership. Trump is tearing up
those principles before their eyes. They must hold him to account.
Daniel W. Drezner
Donald Trump improvises, he thinks on
his feet. It sounds like he blurted out national security secrets
because he was bragging.
Trump got what he shared from an
intelligence report. This is probably going to affect the way the US
intelligence community does things like putting together briefing
memos and so forth. You can see why they would be incentivized to
say as little about sources and methods as possible.
Washington Post story is accurate, Trump gave information where it
would be easy to divine where the source came from. So if you are an
intelligence agency, and you want to provide information to the
president, you have to be worried that if you got information from a
sole source, he then might just blurt something out and burn that
Trump has committed a series of gaffes and own goals.
Trump: Let Flynn Go
The New York Times
President Trump asked FBI director
James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into former
national security adviser Michael Flynn. The request is documented
in a memo Comey wrote shortly after an Oval Office meeting that took
place the day after Flynn resigned in February. Such FBI memos are
widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
According to the memo, the president told Comey: "I hope you can
see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a
good guy. I hope you can let this go."
Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz demanded that the FBI turn over
all "memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings" of discussions
between Trump and Comey.
blood — the hunt is on.
Report: Israel Was Source of Secret Trump Intel
Trump Didnt Even Know Where Info Came From
McCain: Trump Scandal
Has Hit 'Watergate Size'
2017 May 16
White House Chaos
This time it did not even take 24 hours
for Donald Trump to throw his staffers under the bus and contradict
The president revealed highly classified
information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an
Oval Office meeting last week, potentially endangering a coveted
intelligence asset, compromising a crucial alliance, and undermining
the war effort against Daesh.
After The Post broke the story,
senior White House aides quickly denied it. Then, on Twitter this
morning, Trump essentially acknowledged that our reporting is
AR The Post smells
blood and strikes a pose.
Merkron Drive EZ Motor
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela
Merkel agree on a reconstruction of Europe. They say they are
ready to change the EU treaties to strengthen the EZ.
"In the past the subject of treaty change was a French taboo. That
will no longer be the case. What the eurozone needs is an investment
policy. We have to introduce new, fresh money as a budget. That
requires convergence rules, real structural reforms .. That is the
goal of the joint road map we are working on."
are at a moment where people are looking tentatively at the European
Union and realising it does us a great deal of good, it is important
.. we should use this moment to push forward the strengthening of
Macron: "The French agenda will be an agenda of
reform in the coming months, in economic, social, and educational
terms — not because Europe requests it, but because France needs
Germany On Brexit
There are two Germanys. One is familiar to
Britain: the efficient, sober place where they make the cars and the
dishwashers. These Germans exhibit a pragmatism born of a seafaring
past. For centuries the Hanseatic League had trading posts in London
and in towns all along eastern England. This is the Germany with
which Britain can do business.
There is another Germany. If
the first is the Germany of seas, the second is the Germany of
rivers. It is a romantic land of dense forests and dark past
traumas. It is continental and bleeds into bordering countries. This
is the Germany where many families have collective memories of
oppression and flight. For this Germany, Europe is about more than
The two Germanys are often in tension, and Angela
Merkel bears traces of both sides. The chancellor has Hanseatic
family roots. She thinks that national governments, not the European
Commission, should call the shots in the EU. Yet she also embodies
the Germany of rivers. Merkel grew up behind the Iron Curtain and
bridles at fences and walls.
Brexit has aligned the two
Germanys: The Germany of rivers wants a clean Brexit; the Germany of
seas mourns the loss but essentially agrees. German interests once
served by a closer relationship with London now depend on the
cohesion of the single market. The British who lost their way must
learn there is no deal better than membership.
EU Defense Fund
Brussels plans to spend EU funds for
military purposes. A proposed European Defense Fund would finance
the development of prototype military kit such as drones, robots,
and cyber defence technology. The European Commission will ask
member states and MEPs to back the plans.
France and Germany
believe Brexit will let them deepen EU military activities. EU-27
members will be asked to pool military spending to reinforce
anti-terror defenses and external borders. The new fund raises
pressure on Brussels to make up an annual budget shortfall of €10
billion after Brexit.
Under EU law, the EU budget cannot be
used to fund military operations. Brussels says it can legally set
up a fund tapping the EU budget to develop high-tech military
prototypes. The European Commission believes the fund could spend
€500 million per year on research from 2020.
AR Good plan — pity UK out of it.
2017 May 15
Silk Road Spirit
More than 2,000 years ago, our ancestors,
driven by a desire for friendship, opened the overland and maritime
Silk Roads and thus started a great era of exchanges among
Today, we gather here to renew the Silk Road
spirit and discuss the Belt and Road development for international
cooperation. This is both a continuation of our shared legacy and a
right choice for the future.
We are at a fresh starting
point, ready to embark on a new journey together. So long as we
press ahead with a common vision without back-pedaling or standing
still, we will achieve greater connectivity and benefit from each
Belt and Road initiative
Economic growth is not on solid
ground. Economic globalization is encountering some headwinds.
Development has become more uneven, not to mention the other
challenges that overshadow the world economy, such as wars,
conflicts, terrorism, and a massive flow of refugees and migrants.
Confronted by these challenges, many countries are pondering the
way forward. In a world of growing interdependence and challenges,
no country can tackle all the challenges or solve global problems on
Swan geese can fly far and safely through winds and
storms because they move in flocks and help each other as a team.
The best way to meet challenges and achieve better development is
The Belt and Road initiative is the
project of the century and will add splendor to human civilization.
Accelerationists say computer technology and
global capitalism should be massively sped up and intensified. They
favor robots and cyborgs. A central figure of accelerationism is
British philosopher Nick Land.
Land has published
prolifically on the internet about the obsolescence of western
democracy. He has also written approvingly about human biodiversity,
capitalistic human sorting, and the inevitable disintegration of the
human species as AI improves. Accelerationism is not about
Land taught philosophy at the University of
Warwick. He wrote in 1992 that capitalism had always been held back
by politics and saw civilization accelerating toward an apocalypse.
He said he worked in the field of The Collapse of Western
In 1995, Land and others founded the
Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU). Initially based in the Warwick philosophy department, it later moved to a
room above a shop in Leamington Spa. Its members remain attached to the idea that it became a kind of group mind.
Even inside the Warwick philosophy department, its
disdain for standard academic practice became an issue.
Early in the new millennium, after a breakdown, Land left
Britain. He now lives in Shanghai. In a 2004 article, he described
the modern Chinese fusion of Marxism and capitalism as the greatest
political engine of social and economic development the world has
Mind and Body
You are the subject.
You are not
your body. The body is part of your experience, just as things in
the world outside are part of your experience. Both are you.
At every moment, you are an experience identical with an object that
is causally affecting your body. You are the thing that has your
experience. You experience those objects.
A subject is a
combination of objects relative to your body. To be a subject is to
experience objects relative to your body. We each experience a world
that differs from what others experience.
The self is the
AR This is the position I
worked out in Mindworlds.
2017 May 14
Eurovision 2017 was won for Portugal by
The song was immensely, stoppingly surprising,
Hopes for the "epic sax guy" of Moldova were doomed.
Romania ran with a phenomenal mix of yodelling meets rap.
came on with a lovely mix of hip-hop and gypsy.
many high mad hopes for a dreadful mélange.
Lucie Jones sang well
for the UK and garnered many votes.
Denmark went for an Aussie
who is still learning the language.
Ukraine gyrated around a
giant heavy metal head.
Germany went with a sweet but unmemorable
My father was a socialist. I see myself as a conscious capitalist. You have to respect what
money and success gives you, then have the responsibility that goes
with that. My strength of character is a privilege. I can do
anything to survive.
I expected people to be nasty. I didn't
expect people to say I wasn't even human, that I was a primate, and
that I should be beheaded and shot. Other people took out Facebook
campaigns to gang-rape me because that's what black bitches deserve.
The one repeated over and over is that I should be the second Jo
Cox. Now I have security all around my home.
sending me letters about what was happening. This young Polish woman
who was standing at a bus stop up north was kicked to the ground. A
grandmother said her grandson won't go to school because he's been
told he's a monkey and he should get back home. I get these all the
time now, and they are saying I need to be their voice.
hard-right element in the Conservative party is gaining more and
more power. Their agenda is quite simply low tax, low regulation,
low social spending. They make lots of money for themselves and
watch everybody else suffering.
Angry old men are shaping the future of the
country against the inclinations of its youth. By 2019 the country
could be in a receptive mood: 2.5 million over-18-year-olds, freshly
franchised and mostly remainers; 1.5 million oldsters, mostly
Brexiters, freshly in their graves.
Brexit has stirred something not heroic or celebratory or generous
in the nation, but instead has coaxed into the light from some dark,
damp places the lowest human impulses, from the small-minded to the
mean-spirited to the murderous.
2017 May 13
The star TRAPPIST-1 is circled by seven
planets about the size of Earth. The clockwork of the star system is
the most complex case yet of a resonant chain, where the years of
each orbiting body relate to one another as simple ratios. For every
8 times the innermost world races through its orbit, the next planet
goes around roughly 5 times, the next one after that orbits 3 times,
and the next one 2 times. And so on.
Matt Russo, Daniel
Tamayo, and Andrew Santaguida have translated their intricate dance
into a musical composition —
Trappist Sounds (1:54).
The seventh planet, h, orbits
about once every 3 weeks. Sped up some 200 million times and
expressed in sound waves, that frequency is a C note. From there,
the known ratios between planets determine every other signature
note. Together the notes form a major ninth chord. The team added
drumbeats for whenever an inner planet overtakes an outer neighbor,
marking close gravitational interactions among the planets.
Quantum particles are bubbles of froth
kicked up by underlying fields. The fields fluctuate in intensity
and direction. The average value of the electromagnetic field in a
vacuum is zero, but the average value of its square is not, so the
energy density in an EM field is infinite.
fluctuations are virtual particles or zero-point motion. They
involve an infinite amount of energy. But only changes in energy are
observable, and confirm predictions.
Gravity responds to all
kinds of energy. So the infinite energy density associated with the
activity of quantum fields is a problem. Experiments show the
gravitational pull of the vacuum is quite small.
density of the vacuum is dark energy. For fields associated with
bosons the energy density is positive infinity, while for fields
associated with fermions the energy density is negative infinity.
The infinities can cancel in supersymmetric theories.
addition to fluctuating fields, the vacuum contains condensates,
such as the Higgs condensate, which should also weigh something.
Perhaps the measured level of dark energy is an anthropic feature of
our corner of the multiverse. I hope we find a better story.
AR I like loop quantum gravity — see
Russian Foreign Ministry
Trump with Sergey Lavrov
and Sergey Kislyak
Buzz Aldrin: "We can afford
to go to Mars .. We must
our limited resources
on only those things that
Get your ass to Mars!"
2017 May 12
Theresa May and the
Conservatives are on course for a landslide victory.
speaks as if Britain is a nation united, aside from the divisive
forces of party politics and liberal elites seeking to thwart the
will of the people. She claims her opponents are merely playing
political games and stresses the need for strong and stable
leadership — a classic populist trope.
Her campaign message
is simple and strong. A campaign video sees her speaking solemnly in
front of a Union Jack in a dimly lit room as if announcing a new
war, using the majestic plural variously to mean her party, her
government, or all true Brits. The viewer is blinded by her majesty.
If Brexit goes bad, she and her party will be the rock in the
AR FUK v EUSSR — Brexit is
Battle of Britain 2.
Another Tweet Too Far
Trump tweet: "James Comey better hope that
there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking
to the press!"
The Republican dam must break. The party once
united by political thought and respect for civic virtue has adopted
an unscrupulous leader for the sake of holding power. Republicans
defend ignorance, bigotry, dishonesty, and ineptitude for the sake
of a top marginal tax rate of 28% — this seems shockingly
Trump says he fired James Comey because he
decided Russian interference in the election was fake news. The
entire intelligence community confirms the interference and members
of both parties acknowledge it. Republicans are refusing to concede
that bullying and firing the FBI director is impeachable conduct.
We are not surprised that the president thinks he can shut down
an investigation if he dislikes the way it is going. We are
surprised that so many conservatives are letting tribal loyalty
trump the truth. We hope the dam breaks soon.
AR Terminate the Terminator — asap.
A handful of American technology companies
now dominates much of the global economy. The Frightful Five —
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet, the parent company
of Google — are among the most valuable companies on the planet,
collectively worth trillions. Apple reached $800 billion in market
cap this week, and the others may not be far behind.
way to appreciate the power of these five might be to examine the
role each of them plays in your own life, and the grip each holds on
your psyche. Last week I came up with a fun game: If an evil monarch
forced you to abandon each of the Frightful Five, in which order
would you do so, and how much would your life deteriorate as a
AR The real story of our time —
(ppsx, 6.4 MB).
2017 May 11
After the president fired James Comey,
the cloud hanging over the White House got bigger and darker. Donald
Trump looks like he does not want to get to the bottom of Russian
interference in the US election and the potential wrongdoing of his
POTUS 45 has surrounded himself with sycophants
and amateurs. They were caught off guard by the blowback. Senate
investigators have asked the Treasury Department criminal
investigation division for any relevant financial information
related to Trump and his team.
Terminating Comey will only
lead to more questions about Russia. Hours later Trump met in the
Oval Office with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and
ambassador Sergey Kislyak, implicated by the FBI in the Michael Flynn investigation.
The FBI fears the Russia investigation might now be upended.
Trump has hired a Washington law firm to deny that he has
connections to Russia. This will give new momentum to Democratic
calls for a special prosecutor.
Consumption is as much about state
intervention as about individuals or markets. For a consumer society
to flourish, goods have to be invited in. The drive for accumulation
is made a virtue.
Marxists said commodity fetishism put a
price on the products of labor and alienated things from their
makers. In 1958, J.K. Galbraith said consumerism had sapped people
of their commitment to the public good.
State spending is
part of the story of consumption. Crucial to postwar affluence in
Europe and the United States was sharply increasing public spending.
Social democracy spurred on consumerism.
Consumption is a
juggernaut. We can lament the volume of stuff we purchase, yet much
of our waste is from habits that have little to do with individual
motives or morality.
Researchers are exploring the tree of life
to consider where, when, and why consciousness emerged.
Seth says we can infer the evolutionary history of consciousness by
comparing animals alive today and working back to their common
ancestor. As we observe signs of consciousness in other animals, we
can gradually refine our notion of what we are talking about.
Jesse Prinz says consciousness is largely about perception and
emotion. These basic components of conscious experience could be
widespread, even in animals that lack our mental sophistication and
Bjørn Grinde finds that mammals, birds, and
reptiles all show signs of emotional responses, while fish and
amphibians do not. The brains of higher vertebrates show that the
ability to assign value to an experience arose around 300 million
years ago in their common ancestor. Consciousness is slow and energy
intensive, and can only do one thing at a time, so perhaps it
emerged just once.
Bruno van Swinderen looked at selective
attention. He trained fruit flies to walk on a trackball in front of
a virtual scene. By rotating the trackball, the flies could choose
which of two objects to attend to. When a fly attended to an object,
its brain generated specific frequencies recorded by probes. A
dynamic window of attention that moved around and suppressed
competing objects marked the dawn of consciousness. The animals that
pay attention also need to sleep and include vertebrates, insects,
crustaceans, and octopuses.
Michael Graziano says selective
attention is about data handling. An animal needs a mental model of
attention much as it needs a mental model of its body. This model is
responsible for our conscious awareness of the world. Perhaps such
sophistication is only found in vertebrates.
believes unlimited associative learning is a marker for the origin
of consciousness. This requires selective attention, binding
sensations into a perception, performing compound action patterns,
and distinguishing between self and environment. Such learning is
widespread in the animal kingdom and may have evolved about half a
billion years ago.
2017 May 10
I believe that a Brexit
deal remains more likely than unlikely. There is more that unites
the two sides than separates them. A no-deal scenario would be a
disaster for all.
An early challenge will be to agree on the
rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa. The complexities at
stake include residency, healthcare, social security, and
non-discrimination. All of these rights will need a mutually agreed
The debate about a financial
settlement is likely to be complex and heated. The EU will not seek
to punish the UK, but it is only fair that the UK agrees to pay its
share of outstanding commitments and liabilities. It would be wrong
for EU taxpayers to be asked to pay it.
The third priority is
a solution to protect the Good Friday Agreement. This may ultimately
require a special status for Northern Ireland. Many Irish citizens
residing in Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy rights as EU
The EU and the UK should aim for a future
association agreement that goes beyond trade to include security and
defence cooperation. Discussions about a future partnership can only
start when there is clarity about how the existing relationship is
I am confident the gulf between the EU and the UK
government can be bridged. Achieving this will require cool heads.
Failure would not be in the interests of either side.
AR Good start
Tim P Whitby/Getty Images
Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains
V&A Museum, London, 2017-05-13 — 2017-10-01
APC in Arctic camo
Christianity and Jews
Poole Bay bathing season
has begun —
sea is still chilly
Ne nous quittez pas!
— eine politische
World Naked Gardening Day
UK 1P State
UK Local Elections
Lib Dem -37
AR England is blue.
"These negotiations are
difficult enough as they are.
start arguing before they
even begin, they will become
impossible. [We] need today
respect, and a
maximum of goodwill."
La France et le franc
Marine Le Pen has dropped
her manifesto pledge to quit
the euro and restore the franc.
Pundits feared an instant
Commons European scrutiny
committee chair Sir
is sure Germany and the EU are
May: "What they are doing is
trying to exploit a
of project fear."
Tim Berners-Lee wins
Axel Springer Award
Tony Blair: "What's
in Britain worries me .. I know
the moment I stick
out the door I'll get a bucket
of wotsit poured all
me, but I really do feel
passionate about this."
2017 May 9
RAF Atlas Success
The UK Ministry of Defence says the key
contractual milestone has been met following the handing over of its
seventh Airbus A400M airlifter. The RAF has four A400M Atlas
aircraft in service and three undergoing installation and testing of
a defensive subsystem. The RAF A400M fleet is achieving excellent
in-service results, with a mission success rate in excess of 90%.
sieht die militärische Einsatzfähigkeit des Transportflugzeugs A400M
wegen anhaltender technischer Probleme und der Vertragsquerelen mit
dem Hersteller Airbus gefährdet. Airbus werde nicht die nötigen
Investitionen tätigen, um erforderliche Nachbesserungen am A400M
auf den Weg zu bringen, schreibt das Ministerium.
AR Kognitive Dissonanz
We seem to have no privacy. The
intelligence agencies can access just about everything. This is the
The Internet of Things affects safety. In the old
days, car safety was about hardware. Now you get software updates in
one car after another. A threat to cause millions of cars in America
to turn right and accelerate sharply into the nearest building,
bringing traffic to a standstill in all American cities, is an
The Internet brings three steps forward
and one step back. The industry is rather bad at recognizing the
backward steps. It tends to hope that other people will clean up its
The UK government made a serious mistake when it let
GCHQ break into Belgacom in order to wiretap the European
Commission. That seriously annoyed the Eurocrats. There are hazards
involved in lowering the threshold for conflict.
we have seen the progressive adoption of social media techniques and
messaging. In the Scottish referendum in 2014, nationalists hounded
and abused people in favor of remaining in the UK. We saw the same
thing in the Brexit referendum in the UK.
These are problems
we shall be wrestling with for the next decade.
AR Cherries picked from an Edge
2017 May 8
The landslide victory of Emmanuel Macron
gives Europe hope. France faced a clear choice between EZ reform or
quitting. This election was about the future of France in Europe.
France and Germany have similar labor productivity and have had
similar economic performance since 2000. But Macron will need to get
French debt down from 100% of GDP to the EU target of 60%, as
Germany will by 2020. Fortunately, the EZ economy is in a mild
AR EZ union
will be a home run for Western ideals.
Brextremists make ten strategic
1 The UK is not
so united: The people of Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland can
only dream of a similar level of cohesion on Brexit within the UK as
in the EU-27.
have always sought to divide and conquer Europe. But the frontal
attack on Poles in the UK last summer offended Poland, a potential
ally against the EU.
Brextremists take pride in misjudging EU realities from pure
arrogance. Their misunderstanding and contempt for the EU met its
nemesis in EU-27 unity on Brexit.
Their dream of a special deal between Theresa May and Angela Merkel
was always a long shot. Merkel is far too cautious to let the UK
start picking cherries.
say the UK is in much better economic shape than the EZ. But the UK
economic outlook is stormy, while the much maligned EZ economy is
6 Brextremists failed
to see that Brexit would weld the EU together. Brexit is a gift from
the gods to the EU, which lacked a deterrent against leaving until
7 The threat of a hard
Brexit is a spectacular own goal. A Brexit with no agreement hurts
first and foremost the UK.
EU members think the EU is stronger with the UK. They hope the UK
will relent and see reason. Germans want allies and have no desire
to appease Brextremists.
Theresa May says EU-27 unanimity on Brexit increases uncertainty and
instability for the UK. She sounds like Marine Le Pen.
10 Brextremists are wrong to imagine
that after the French and German elections resistance to UK demands
will collapse and the UK will win.
A partisan perspective, but some hits.
2017 May 7
Emmanuel Macron président de la République
AR Big relief —
French voters have seen reason.
The French Are Better
France is the most visited country in
the world. It is well administered, its roads are among the best in
the world, its public transport systems are incomparable, and it is
Every small town in France has at least one
independent bookshop. One cannot attribute the
high cultural level in France to bookshops alone, but at the least
they help to maintain it. The attention to detail in shops is a
sharp contrast with Britain. All this adds to the enjoyment of life.
France has its problems, too. Its immigrant banlieues are
frightful battery farms of resentment, trafficking, and delinquency.
Its educational system has deteriorated and its modern architecture
is among the worst in the world. Its labour laws, social charges,
regulations, and legal bias inhibit small businesses and seem to
The rigidity of the labour market leads to
higher unemployment, but the difficulty of getting rid of
an employee gives the employer an incentive to train him to be more
efficient. And the French are efficient: far fewer of them working
far fewer hours produce at least as much as the British.
French, like us all, have their vices. They are the most abominable
hypocrites about money. They talk equality and exude avarice and
envy. Their snobbery is as bad as ours. But we should not exaggerate
their woes, the better to avoid confronting our own.
2017 May 6
Quantum information theorists say
information is physical. When energy spreads from hot objects to
cold ones, particles become entangled and information spreads
between them. Since information is conserved, if entropy reflects an
information snapshot of a system, the universe can evolve yet always
have a global entropy of zero.
Imagine a big bath of
particles that possess energy and angular momentum. This bath is
coupled to a weight, for energy, and a turntable, for angular
momentum. Normally, to do work you need hot and cold reservoirs. But
a reservoir containing multiple conserved quantities follows
In the big bath system, you can trade
between conserved quantities like energy and angular momentum. The
weight can rise as the turntable slows, or vice versa, using the
qubits describing the energy and rotation states as a currency.
Trading conserved quantities like this is a new idea.
AR Entropy is obviously relative to a
snapshot — this is the good part of QBism.
The wavefunction of a system encodes
the probabilities for the outcomes of any measurements an observer
might perform on it. The wavefunction probabilities are Bayesian and
are updated as new data come to light. The wavefunction describes
the observer's perspective.
Quantum Bayesianism solves many
mysteries. Collapse of the wavefunction is simply the observer
updating a data snapshot after making a measurement. Spooky action
at a distance also reflects the update of a snapshot. QBism treats
the wavefunction as a description of a snapshot.
AR This is my take on QBism — Fuchs'
take is mostly nonsense, imho.
2017 May 5
In Europe, recent trends have elevated an
educated upper class while separating it from a declining and
fragmenting working class. A growing immigrant population serves
this upper class while seeming to compete with downscale natives for
jobs, housing, and social benefits.
Europe is stuck with a
flawed experiment in political economy, a common currency without a
common fiscal policy or a central political authority to claim
legitimacy. The damage that this combination has done to the
economies of Southern Europe is striking and severe.
has sub-replacement fertility. A continent of historic states
without a strong assimilative tradition is attempting to integrate
an immigrant population that differs dramatically from its natives.
Part of this immigrant population is tempted by jihadist ideologies.
European governance has a democratic deficit. The EU ruling
class relies on illiberal methods to maintain the peace. Elite EU
politics seems to believe that the important thing is to concentrate
every effort on delegitimizing and defeating critics rather than
Right-wing populists are not outliers in an
otherwise harmonious and liberal Europe. It is not right-wing
authoritarians but the great and good of Brussels and Berlin who
have shown consistent contempt for the popular will. The European
Union has problems its leadership cannot or will not solve.
2017 May 4
L'euro et la peur
Marine Le Pen: "L'euro, c'est
la monnaie des banquiers, ce n'est pas la monnaie du peuple .. c'est
la raison pour laquelle il faut que l'on arrive à s'arracher à cette
monnaie .. les Français auront une monnaie dans leur portefeuille,
une monnaie qui permettra de retrouver un niveau adapté de notre
économie et de partir à la conquête du monde."
Macron: "Une grande entreprise ne pourra pas payer en euros d'un
côté et payer ses salariés de l'autre en francs. Ca n'a jamais
existé, madame Le Pen. C'est du grand n'importe quoi."
Pen: "L'économie britannique ne s'est jamais aussi bien portée que
depuis que les Britanniques ont décidé de reprendre leur liberté."
Macron: "La grande peur, qui la manipule depuis le début? C'est
vous. Qui joue sur les peurs? C'est vous. La grande prêtresse de la
peur, elle est en face de moi."
In a busy life, our activity
separates us from our deeper selves. With our smartphones and
computer screens, we often remain caught on the surface of our
lives, drowning in soulless materialism.
Over the years I
have developed a number of simple practices that bring together
action and a quality of mindfulness that can nourish our lives in
hidden ways. Activities like mindful walking or cooking with love
and attention can reconnect us with life in its beauty and wonder.
One of these practices is cleaning.
The art of cleaning is a
simple spiritual activity that is often overlooked. Cleaning a
table, dusting a shelf, I give attention and love, because
everything responds to love and care. When I clean I am also caring
for what is around me, knowing that it, too, needs to be loved.
I love to clean. In cleaning my living space I am clearing up
debris that clutters our life more than we realize. Just as ritual
bathing prepares the worshipper, or just as we may take off our
shoes at the entrance to a temple or mosque, cleaning is an
important preparation for living with the sacred in our daily life.
We need to learn how to clear up after ourselves. To give space
to the divine, to return to the sacred, we need to relearn how to
live lightly, to leave as little debris behind us as we can.
2017 May 3
The EU will bar Theresa May from negotiating Brexit with other
EU leaders. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told
her that under the EU mandate European Commission chief negotiator
Michel Barnier would run the talks on behalf of the EU.
EU figures seem to think talking with UK Brexit minister David Davis
is pointless. They could substitute EU deputy negotiator Sabine
Weyand for Barnier to give May a graceful way out.
line: The EU is ready to up the UK Brexit bill to €100
AR Either the tone of
the proceedings improves or the UK is doomed.
Theresa May says Jean-Claude Juncker will be
the next person to find she can be a "bloody difficult woman" as
cabinet frustration over the Brexit negotiations mounts.
AR Either this is just posturing for
voters or the UK is doomed.
Logic says those tasked with delivering
Brexit should be those who supported the ludicrous idea in the first
place. But almost everyone who understood international trade backed
Remain. So the ministers now delivering Brexit are:
● Liam Fox — tours the world
as trade secretary to advertise how many principles Britain will
flog off in order to sign trade deals, and motivates British
business by calling it fat and lazy.
● David Davis — has prior
ministerial experience of the EU, but he has no time for doubts
about a hard Brexit, and is relaxed about not assessing the effects
of a Brexit with no deal.
● Boris Johnson — decided to
back Leave after writing one column for Brexit and one for Brussels,
and deciding which one he preferred, mistaking good rhetoric for
AR Either May
accepts harder logic or the UK is doomed.
2017 May 2
Theresa May enjoyed a "very constructive
meeting" with Jean-Claude Juncker, said a UK government spokesman.
But Juncker later told Angela Merkel that May lives in another
galaxy. Merkel then said in the Bundestag that London was under
illusions about Brexit negotiations.
The EU plans to present
a Brexit bill of around €60 billion, but May said the UK does not
have to pay a cent. She also demanded an immediate start to talks on
a future trade deal. The EU first wants to sort out the bill and
clarify the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
Last week the British cited the purdah rule to delay the EU budget.
The rule says that during an election campaign a UK government
cannot enter into any financial obligations that would bind its
successors. Perhaps the EU should postpone all talks until after
Prime Minister, 2019 (not)
Despite the unstinting efforts of
my government, the UK and the EU have been unable to reach an
agreement. I must warn you that difficult times lie ahead. There
will be severe disruption to trade and travel for an extended period
of time, and this could lead to a serious recession. Britain has
made a democratic decision to leave the EU, but the EU has proved
unwilling to accept that decision and negotiate a fair deal.
Instead, it is determined to punish the UK.
politicians seem to believe that they can humiliate Britain and bend
the country to their will. Clearly, they have no knowledge of the
history or nature of the British people. A country that has defeated
Hitler, the Kaiser, Napoleon, and the Spanish Armada has no reason
to fear the bureaucrats of Brussels, or the governments of Malta and
This royal throne of kings, this
This earth of majesty, this seat of
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of
men, this little world,
This precious stone set in
the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
(with thanks to Gideon Rachman)
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron
says France could exit from the EU if it does not reform. He said he
has defended European ideas and policies, but he has to listen to
people who are now extremely angry and impatient. He said he would
seek to make fundamental reforms to the EU and the European project,
and added that it would be fraud if he let the EU remain as is.
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has backed off from
her promised Frexit. She now says she would favor a soft exit — and
only after several months of talks with European partners.
AR My favored scenario: EU heads off
both Frexit and Brexit with commitment to deep reforms.
2017 May 1
Jessica T. Mathews
Asia is home to 4.4 billion people.
China became the world's largest economy (measured by PPP) in 2014.
Its growth has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, financed
the US deficit, and let China massively increase military spending.
President Xi Jinping has built public
support for his view that China is claiming its rightful place as a
world power after more than a century of foreign humiliation.
Communist Party legitimacy no longer rests on ideology but on
economic growth. Xi has launched a vigorous campaign against elite
corruption, conveniently jailing many of his political opponents.
India is growing faster than China but is still far behind.
Culturally and politically, India is facing west. Its relations with
the US have been growing steadily closer since 2000. The success of
Indian immigrants in the US is a powerful factor.
China, and Japan are three of the world’s four largest economies, by
PPP. Though today the US and the EU together remain substantially
larger, their ability to impose order on the world is not what it
once was. But the dominance of the West is driven as much by values
and ideas as by economic and military power.
took the US out of the TPP, which did not include China. A few weeks
later, China sent officials to a meeting of the remaining TPP
members to discuss a new trade regime around China, and not the US.
Trump has made cuts to the State Department, to foreign aid, and to
most international institutions and programs.
Mattis, 2013: "If you don't fund the State Department fully, then I
need to buy more ammunition ultimately."
AR The Hegelian Weltgeist returns to
My beach, Mayday
Poole Conservative Association
chooses its election candidate
#EUCO: Unity in action:
adopt #Article50 Guidelines in
less than 15 minutes.
Die EU bleibt hart
USAF Global Strike Command
launches Minuteman III ICBM
from Vandenberg AFB, CA
AR Target-rich environment
Poll finds 45% of UK voters
agree Britain was wrong
vote to leave the EU,
43% said it was right,
12% don't know.
AR Urgent priority:
und Zukunft ist für uns
Illusion, wenn auch
AR I think
of time is wrong.
Quantum chip in test rig
Spinor visualised as a vector
on a Möbius band: turning
thru a cycle inverts its sign.
is both a model for
quantum spin and a step
2017 April 30
Trump: First 100 Days
The election of Donald Trump has caused a severe case
of global geostrategic whiplash. The number of campaign promises
that have morphed into presidential U-turns is staggering:
China — Trump said he would name China a currency
manipulator, threatened a trade war, questioned the One China
policy, and accused China of being soft on North Korea. After talks
with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Trump reaffirmed the One China
policy, praised Beijing for taking positive steps on North Korea,
and said China is not manipulating its currency.
Egypt — Trump hit it off with Egyptian president Abdel
Fattah el-Sisi when they met. Sisi visited the US to deepen military
cooperation, fight terror, revive his economy, and gain legitimacy.
Germany — Trump had said Angela Merkel made a
catastrophic mistake on migrants, was as bad as Vladimir Putin, and
was trying to take US business. Now Trump says the EU is wonderful
and he is totally in favor of it. He said NATO was obsolete. Now he
says it is not obsolete.
Iran — Trump
planned to take a hard line toward Tehran. When Iran tested
missiles, the harsh US reaction warned Tehran about US strategy on
Iran. The Rouhani administration moderated its behavior. Iranians
view Trump as erratic and hostile toward their republic.
Iraq — The battle to liberate Mosul shows Trump how
hard it is to defeat Daesh extremists. Heavier US and Iraqi
firepower has come at a high cost in civilian casualties. Trump had
toyed with taking Iraqi oil. His administration has decisively shot
down that notion.
Israel — Trump pledged to
move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, dismantle the Iran deal, reduce
funding to the UN, and cut aid to the Palestinians. Yet he wanted to
close a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli
right wing still expects Trump to be a friend.
— Trump still has yet to meet Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto.
Mexicans say they will not pay for the wall, but they fear Trump
could impose taxes as payment. On NAFTA, if a good deal is not
renegotiated, Mexico plans to walk away from the pact.
North Korea — The NK government says North Koreans
are under imminent threat of US attack and uses this threat to
justify its investment in weapons of mass destruction. A clash
between Trump and Kim Jong Un is a recipe for disaster.
Russia — Trump wanted better US-Russian relations
but Vladimir Putin says the level of trust on a working level has
deteriorated. Congress is investigating allegations of Russian
interference in the US presidential election.
— Trump promised a plan to eliminate Daesh. He tried to ban Syrian
refugees from entering the US. He was silent on the civil war, but
after news of a chemical weapons attack in Idlib he suddenly fired
dozens of Tomahawk missiles onto the Shayrat airbase.
Turkey — Trump has taken a softer tone on Turkey.
Ankara responded positively to the Tomahawk strike. Trump
congratulated president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his referendum
UK — Trump held hands with Theresa
May at the White House in January. May wants a close bond for the
sake of the special relationship as Britain prepares for a future
EU Hard Line
European leaders say Brextremists have
completely unreal expectations of a swift trade deal between the UK
and the EU. Over lunch on Saturday, EU leaders took less than a
minute to adopt tough negotiating guidelines.
Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier report a lack of realism
in terms of sequencing and timelines from their talks in London and
say the two sides are far apart. Donald Tusk: "Before discussing the
future we have to sort out our past."
Tusk invited Barnier to
hear other EU leaders. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte: "It is
important that we get agreements as soon as possible on issues like
the Irish border, the divorce bill, we are talking serious money. We
have to talk about citizen's rights."
German finance minister
Wolfgang Schäuble: "There is no free lunch. Britons must know that.
We don't want to weaken Britain. But we also don't want that the
rest of Europe is weakened. Britain should not have advantages after
the exit that other countries don't have."
Belgian premier Charles Michel: "A Brexit for free is
not possible. Maybe the British government will do its utmost to
split the 27 nations and it is trap we need to avoid .. If you are
no longer part of a club, it has consequences."
2017 April 29
NK Missile Fail
North Korea on Saturday launched a ballistic missile
that blew up over land, says US Pacific Command. The missile crashed
within NK territory near Pukchang.
Donald Trump tweeted: "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China
& its highly respected President when it launched, though
unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!"
All options for responding to future
provocations must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial
leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract
North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary.
The United States also would much prefer countries and people in
question to own up to their lapses and correct their behavior
themselves. But we will not hesitate to sanction third country
entities and individuals supporting the DPRK's illegal activities.
For too long the international community has been reactive. The
more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it. We must
prefer a negotiated solution to this problem, but we are committed
to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean
My First 100 Days
I loved my previous life. I had so many
things going. Actually, this is more work than my previous life.
I thought it would be easier. I do miss my old life. I like to work,
but this is actually more work.
2017 April 28
Intelligence can be viewed as a process
that converts unstructured information into useful and actionable
knowledge. The scientific promise of artificial intelligence (AI) is
that we may be able to synthesize, automate, and optimize that
At DeepMind, we developed the AlphaGo program that
beat a top player at the game of Go. With
10^170 possible board
configurations, Go is insoluble by brute-force methods. We used deep neural networks to build a
learning system, and showed it thousands of strong amateur games.
Then we had it play against different versions of itself thousands
of times, learning from its mistakes and improving. More than 200
million people watched AlphaGo win its victory.
In the next
few years, scientists and researchers using similar approaches will
generate insights in a multitude of areas. AI is analogous to the
Hubble telescope — a scientific tool that allows us to see farther
and better understand the universe. AI can play a
role in supporting experts by identifying
patterns and sources that can escape human eyes alone. This
collaboration between people and algorithms will propel scientific
progress over the next few decades.
Physics and neuroscience
are in some ways the most fundamental subjects. Between them they
AR I agree —
see my book Mindworlds.
2017 April 27
US senators attended a meeting on North Korea at the
White House. Members of both parties said they were reassured by the
Democrat Senator Chris Coons: "It was a
sobering briefing, and an important opportunity for the entire
Senate to hear the emerging plans of the Trump administration."
Republican Senator Bob Corker: "It was an OK briefing."
The 1950-1953 Korean war killed some 2.7 million
Koreans, 800,000 Chinese, and 33,000 Americans. Today President
Trump says US patience with the NK nuclear and missile program has
run out. Pyongyang responds with more bellicose rhetoric.
Koreans know NK artillery batteries can hit Seoul if another
war breaks out. The time from firing a shell to impact in the city
is 45 seconds. Kim Jong Un has fired 66 missiles in tests, has
gradually increased their range, and is working to miniaturize the
NK nuclear arsenal to make warheads. An MRBM with a nuclear payload
could hit South Korea or Japan.
The young man known in China
as Fatty Kim the Third seems serious about being a nuclear power. In speeches, he mentions Korean reunification far more often than his
father did. He could fire 600 chemically armed Scud missiles on all
SK airports, train stations, and marine ports, and launch MRBMs with
chemical warheads at Japan to hinder US reinforcements.
US-SK 2015 war plan OPLAN 5015 includes attacks on NK nuclear and
missile facilities and decapitation attacks against Kim Jong Un and
the rest of the NK leadership. A pre-emptive strike against NK
missiles or nuclear facilities would be unable to take out all the
NK artillery front loaded near the border, but US-SK firepower would
terminate the Kim dynasty.
Pentagon thinking is that it would
be a 4-6 month conflict with high-intensity combat and many dead. In
1994, President Bill Clinton was advised that a war on the peninsula
would likely result in 1 million dead, and nearly $1 trillion of
2017 April 26
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a tale of a father
and son bonding, travelling on a motorcycle on a tour of western
America. It discusses science and mysticism, mind and machine, and
western enlightenment through reason versus eastern enlightenment
Pirsig was born in Minneapolis in 1928.
His father was a law professor of German descent and his mother was
Swedish. At age 9 Robert was assessed to have an IQ of 170 and at
age 15 he entered university. He was expelled for failing grades:
"Science could not teach me how to understand girls sitting in my
In 1946 he joined the army and served in Korea. Then
he studied oriental philosophy in India. Back in Minnesota, he
worked on a newspaper and met Nancy. They married in 1954 and had
two sons. Pirsig wrote technical manuals, bought an old farm, and
started teaching philosophy.
Pirsig went to study in
Chicago, but it soured and he was given electroconvulsive shock
treatment. Writing ZAMM was his salvation. After being turned down
by 121 publishers, it was published in 1974. It sold 5 million
copies. A sequel,
Lila, appeared in 1991. Pirsig: "I felt that Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance was the journey out, and Lila was this trip
AR I loved ZAMM — one of
the few books I've read twice.
2017 April 25
Google had a vision: All the books ever
written could be as instantly accessible as web pages.
project began in 2002 when Larry Page offered the University of
Michigan a deal: Let us borrow all your books and we'll scan them
for you. In just over a decade, after making deals with numerous
library systems, Google had scanned about 25 million books, at a
cost of $400 million.
Authors and publishers complained. They
filed a class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of everyone
with a US copyright interest in a book. Only about half the books
published between 1923 and 1963 are in the public domain, and no one
knows which half.
The Authors Guild agreed on a collective
licensing regime for out-of-print books. Authors and publishers
could opt out their books at any time. For the rest, Google would
display and sell their books, but 63% of the revenues would go into
escrow with a Book Rights Registry.
The agreement set the
terms for a public utility to be deployed on terminals to local
libraries nationwide. But many feared what had happened to the
academic journal market: The Google Books price would be fair at
first, then once libraries and universities were hooked it would
rise. The Department of Justice said the settlement would give
Google a monopoly.
Now Google has a database of 25 million
books that no one is allowed to read.
Google is working on building
a quantum chip that performs a calculation beyond the reach of a
conventional computer. The chip will race a supercomputer to prove
Quantum chips crunch not bits but qubits. Researchers
have so far demonstrated quantum computing with only small groups of
qubits. Google will need a grid of 49 qubits for its "quantum
supremacy" experiment, but its latest chip has only 6 qubits. Quantum
processors would need to crunch many more than 50 qubits to do
The experiment could become a benchmark for a
working quantum computer. It has already helped managers at Google
see that the technology is on its way.
rules work extremely well. But there are still open questions
regarding the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Some scientists
aim to develop alternative versions of the mathematical rules to
gain new insight into the underlying reality.
In standard quantum mechanics, the rules
use complex numbers. An alternative theory uses hyper-complex
numbers, which are a generalization of complex numbers.
Hyper-complex rules can replicate most of the predictions of the
standard rules, but some operations that commute in standard quantum
mechanics do not commute in a hyper-complex world.
A team tested for deviations from standard quantum
mechanics predicted by hyper-complex rules. An interferometer allowed
a photon to travel both ways around a loop at the same time. Their
loop included a normal optical material and a specially designed
metamaterial. The normal optical material slowed down the photons,
whereas the metamaterial sped them up.
The rules of standard
quantum mechanics say light behaves the same whether it first passes
through a normal material and then through a metamaterial or vice
versa — the effects of the two materials commute. In a hyper-complex
world, they might not. The team verified that hyper-complex
rules are not needed in this case.
That's a relief — the complex rules are complicated enough.
2017 April 24
Emmanuel Macron v Marine Le Pen
Emmanuel Macron looks likely to beat
Marine Le Pen in the second round of French elections on May 7.
A centrist who supports open markets and France staying in the EU,
he took 23.75% in the first-round vote, ahead of Ms Le Pen at 21.53%
(definitive results as of 0702 ET).
The euro jumped 2 cents
against the US dollar as the results were confirmed, pushing above
$1.09 (with the pound at $1.27 / €1.17).
Un immense gâchis
Ainsi donc, l'imperdable a
été perdu. L'impensable s'est imposé. L'impossible est advenu. La
droite, qui pendant cinq ans aura étrillé les socialistes dans tous
les scrutins, la droite, dont les idées et les valeurs n'ont jamais
été aussi majoritaires dans les profondeurs du pays, cette droite à
qui la victoire ne pouvait pas échapper a été, hier, sèchement
éliminée. Alors que le désir d'alternance, après un quinquennat
unanimement jugé calamiteux, n'a jamais été aussi puissant, elle ne
sera pas, pour la première fois de son histoire, représentée au
second tour de l'élection présidentielle.
2017 St George's Day
En Marche! La France
Estimations sofres à 20h00, 1er tour en % des suffrages
23% Emmanuel Macron, 23% Marine Le Pen
Planet Over Presidency
We have only a short window to deal with
the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart
In Paris in 2015, leaders pledged to
try to hold global warming to 1.5 K. But at current rates of burning
coal, gas, and oil, we are on course to overheating.
was that growth in renewable energy would begin to close the gap
between what physics demands and what our political systems have so
But President Trump will slow that momentum.
The effects will be felt for many years.
The effects of climate change policy are forever.
USS Carl Vinson
"We are sending an armada,
very powerful. We have
far more powerful than the
that I can tell
you. And we have the best
military people on
2017 Earth Day
Fast Radio Bursts
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) last just a few
milliseconds, but they are the most luminous radio signals in the
universe. When a repeating FRB
was spotted, the extragalactic magnetar model became the most
Astronomers spotted a flash that made eight
reappearances, originating in a dwarf irregular galaxy about 1 Gpc
away. The data seems consistent with the magnetar theory. Magnetars
generally form from Type-I superluminous supernovas, which appear
relatively often in dwarf irregular galaxies.
of stars since the Big Bang has increased the metallicity of the
universe. But dwarf irregular galaxies formed from primordial
hydrogen and helium. Their low metallicity lets them make more
massive stars, which die to form highly magnetized neutron stars, or
Brian Metzger guesses that the repeater is a young
magnetar, a newborn neutron star, probably less than 3 Gs old, with
a powerful and unstable magnetic field that pumps energy into the
expanding cloud of supernova debris, which absorbs the energy and
occasionally releases FRBs.
Another idea is that FRBs are
emitted by active galactic nuclei (AGNs). AGNs are thought to be
powered by supermassive black holes, and many of them have jets that
could beam FRBs into space. But AGNs usually exist in bigger
galaxies, not dwarfs.
We need more data.
2017 April 21
Leaning on China to pressure North Korea
could fail. Then Donald Trump gets mad and destroys an NK test
missile on its launchpad with a barrage of cruise missiles. Result:
a new Korean war.
North Korea might respond by firing
artillery at Seoul, a metropolitan area of 25 million people. The NK
regime would be destroyed, but the country has a huge army and
missiles that can reach Tokyo. A war could cause a million
casualties and $1 trillion in damage.
US and South Korean
policies toward North Korea have failed over the years. If Trump
tries a pre-emptive military strike, heaven help us.
David Böcking, Christian Reiermann
minister Wolfgang Schäuble has flown to Washington to report to Team
The German trade surplus is mainly the result of
market decisions made by companies and consumers. The surplus was
8.6% of GDP in 2015 and 8.3% in 2016, and is estimated at 7.5% in
2017 and 7.0% in 2018. Around half of it is due to structural
factors such as the global competitiveness of German vendors and the
quality and complexity of German products.
and private citizens invest abroad to earn profits that account for
a quarter of the current account surplus. German investors hold a
stake in more than 3,000 American companies employing around 672,000
people, accounting for a total turnover of €466 billion. In 2016
alone, $63 billion in German capital flowed into the US. This is due
to US importance to the global economy and to the global role of the
Germany has taken steps to reduce the surplus. A
minimum wage and €11 billion in tax cuts will increase domestic
demand and public investment has increased by 45%. Germany has no
influence on the exchange rate and applies no protectionist
Whether all this will convince Team Trump is
Germany exported goods and services worth about
€100 billion to the UK in 2015, notching up a bilateral trade
surplus of about €40 billion. Direct and indirect German investments
in the UK amount to almost €110 billion. Fewer than 10% of German
companies expect a negative impact from Brexit, mostly from lower
British demand and a weaker pound.
For Germany the integrity
and success of the EU are matters of existential importance. Sophia
Besch and Christian Odendahl: "Berlin ... considers disintegration
of the EU the biggest Brexit risk ... In Germany's view, Brexit is
2017 April 20
Dover and Out
Britain will leave the EU at the
stroke of midnight on March 29, 2019. Theresa May: "This is an
historic moment from which there can be no turning back."
will take the UK out of both the single market and the customs
union. Membership in the single market meant accepting the four
freedoms: freedom of goods, capital, services, and people.
Continuing to embrace that last freedom was a red line for May. She
is equally determined to break free of the jurisdiction of the
European Court of Justice, which means leaving the customs union
Remainers see big holes in the government case. May and
her ministers say they want frictionless free trade with Europe, on
the best possible terms. They want continued close security
cooperation. They want free trade in a world turning to
protectionism. They want Britain to be a global magnet, attracting
people of ambition. That was what the UK had, until they decided to
throw it all away.
2017 April 19
Theresa May is on course to win a majority of more than 100 in a
June snap election, with Labour pro-Brexit voters deserting Jeremy
Corbyn, according to polling data.
"Since when did prime
ministers and party leaders deliver Easter messages? ... Mrs May's
rather bland one ... did suggest a Christian duty to unite in
support of Brexit."
$1 Trillion to Fix US Roads
President Donald Trump will soon reveal his $1
trillion plan to fix everything. But $1 trillion will barely cover
what the Department of Transportation estimates is a $836 billion
backlog in US highway investment needs.
The US road
construction and repair funding system is broke. The Highway Trust
Fund comes from gas and diesel pump taxes, but Congress has not
raised the gas tax since 1993. Congress stabilized funding for a few
years and kicked the can down the road. But in the long term, if
vehicles continue to get more fuel efficient and electric cars catch
on with the US public, the tax revenues will fall.
transportation bill finally funded a study of a road usage tax,
where people pay per mile they drive instead of per gallon they
burn. This could raise as much as $246 billion by 2020. California
has just wrapped up the largest ever US pilot study of a road usage
charge. The great majority of participants thought it was fairer
than a gas tax and liked road charging as a concept.
AR The pay per mile scheme gets my vote
for funding UK roads too.
a few hours after the May statement
helped envision the
of the History
of Polish Jews
US President Donald Trump
wants a ride in the Queen's
coach during his
state visit this year.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft
in the water plumes of Saturn's
The ice shell
has fractures with plumes of
liquid water from a subsurface
ocean containing organics and
dioxide. The hydrogen
is likely produced at hot vents
on the ocean
now looks like our best bet for
The Cassini mission will
end on 2017-09-15.
2017 April 18
I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed
that the Government should call a general election, to be held on
Britain is leaving the European Union and there can
be no turning back. We want a deep and special partnership between a
strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is
free to chart its own way in the world.
We need a general
election now, while the European Union agrees its negotiating
position and before the detailed talks begin.
I first read Ray Kurzweil's book
The Age of Spiritual Machines in 2006. A few years earlier, I
had dropped out of Bible school and stopped believing in God. I was
living alone in Chicago and working nights as a cocktail waitress.
Kurzweil divided all of evolution into successive epochs. We
were living in the fifth epoch, when human intelligence begins to
merge with technology. Soon we would reach the Singularity and be
transformed into spiritual machines. We would resurrect our minds
onto supercomputers and our bodies would become incorruptible.
Transhumanists say they are carrying on the legacy of the
Enlightenment. Most are atheists. Some transhumanists say true
resurrection can happen only if it is bodily resurrection. They tend
to favor cryonics and bionics. The question of whether the
resurrection would be corporeal or merely spiritual was debated by
My doubts about God began after I read The
Brothers Karamazov. I could not reconcile the idea that an
omnipotent and benevolent God could allow so much suffering.
Transhumanism offered redemption without the problems of divine
Oxford philosopher and transhumanist Nick Bostrom
suggested that we live in a Matrix-like simulation and that the
posthumans running it are like gods in relation to us. Simulation
theologists say it is reasonable to assume that our creators are
benevolent because the capacity to build sophisticated technologies
requires rational purpose and social harmony.
Transhumanism Association chairman Christopher Benek told me Jesus
was both fully human and fully God. Science had verified the
potential for matter to have two distinct natures. Superposition, a
principle in quantum theory ...
Cut — Ed.
2017 April 17
Turks voted yes. President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan has won a narrow majority for introducing a presidential
system that puts all the power at the top. After a hundred years of
parliamentary democracy, Turkey will be become a one-man state.
The referendum should never have taken place. Citizens were
forced to decide on a constitutional change during a state of
emergency. Erdogan mobilized the entire state for his campaign yet
won by less than 2%. In the three biggest cities — Istanbul, Ankara,
and Izmir — he lost.
Erdogan can now dissolve
parliament whenever he likes. He can side with one party and can
pick new constitutional judges. He will abolish the post of prime
minister and reintroduce the death penalty.
Europe and Turkey
are partners in NATO and about 3 million Turks live in Germany.
Turkey depends on EU trade, so the EU can exert leverage in
negotiations on deepening the customs union. The EU should work with Turkish civil society and offer refuge to
persecuted journalists and academics.
A year after the Treasury forecast that
leaving the bloc would hit the UK economy hard, economists agree
that the report mostly stands the test of time.
Consumer willingness to spend since the referendum suggests that
they think the government assessment of a permanent long-term hit to
incomes was wrong. Economists still think consumers are likely to be
The Treasury analysis predicted that Brexit
would reduce trade and foreign investment in the UK, reducing the
growth rate. The harder the Brexit, the worse the predicted effect.
The ultimate impact of leaving the EU looks more negative than
MIT economics professor John Van Reenan: "As we get
closer to the end of Article 50 and a hard Brexit looks likely, I
suspect this is when the proverbial will hit the fan."
EU Goes Pear-Shaped
Brexit is a problem for the EU. The
British economy is as big as that of the 20 smallest member states
combined. It is as if those 20 were leaving the EU at once.
Brexit destroys the European equilibrium. In the European Council,
a blocking minority needs 35% of the EU population. The UK and
the Deutschmark bloc (Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and
Finland) have a population of 35%. These countries favor free trade.
The Club Med bloc has a population share of 36%. After Brexit,
the first block shrinks to a share of 25%. Club Med grows to 42%,
and they favor protectionism.
Brexit wrecks the EU and the UK. Well done — NOT!
British Islands, Child Sex
British overseas territories are among the world's
leading hosts of websites with images of child sexual abuse. UK
Council for Child Internet Safety executive member John Carr urged
ministers to intervene to place UK overseas territories under the
same rules as the .uk domain.
All these little British overseas territories, these toxic remnants
of empire, should be offered a choice between subjection to full and
enforced domestic UK law and tax legislation or complete and
unsupported independence. Their present status is disgraceful, an
affront to all decent taxpayers in properly regulated states.
2017 Easter Sunday
No news is good news.
2017 April 15
My father was British and my mother American,
and Jewish. In my youth I railed against all states. I enjoyed the
upside of living in a cosmopolitan city. When I was growing up in
London, people always banged on about how polyglot it was.
Remainers failed to explain how the EU was going to prevent the 1%
getting relentlessly richer. Windy talk of human rights is always an
appeal to the world government, which would be the only institution
capable of enforcing them.
For most of us, the Passover story is a
tale of liberation, in which an oppressed minority rebels and
resists the oppressive might of a wicked regime. But try to see
things from the other side.
The Pharaoh proceeds cautiously
at first, afflicting the Israelites with no more than hard labor.
When that proves to be bad policy, he escalates. By the time Moses
arrives, the remaining Israelites are so thoroughly persecuted they
lose the spirit to rise up. Moses understands that nothing short of
divine intervention can redeem them.
Israel is mired in a
futile struggle against Palestinian terrorism, America is wasting
time on Daesh, Europeans cannot stop Islamist fanatics. We think
each oppressed people, whether afflicted by real burdens or by
imagined slights, will raise itself up. The Egyptians failed to
crush the Israelites — the oppressed will not be crushed.
Follow this argument to its logical end, and your best bet is to try
and appease your enemy. But the Pharaoh story also shows you can
wage a gradually escalating war against your foes and achieve a
victory so crushing that they need divine intervention to survive.
2017 April 14
Germany and Europe
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) faces a
challenge from chancellor candidate Martin Schulz (SPD) and foreign
minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD). They want relaxation of the austerity
demands on southern EU states and want to expand the EU mandate into
a social dimension. European Commission president
Jean-Claude Juncker and many southern EU heads of government want
Merkel is opposed to transferring more social
competencies and money to Brussels. Her circle wants reforms and
competitiveness, citing polls showing a clear majority of Germans
opposed to more aid for Athens. Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble
and his counterparts in other EU member states want further
austerity in Athens.
Gabriel thinks it was a mistake to let
Merkel set EU policy: "There is significant support for Europe on
the center-left. I think it is possible to win an election on
appeals for a more socially minded Europe ... We Social Democrats
are in favor of an EU pursuing the harmonization of living
A Foreign Ministry paper on pillars of social
rights advocates more money for education, mobility and research,
and more EU money for the fight against youth unemployment to boost
development in poorer regions. EPP parliamentarian Manfred
Weber: "A campaign focused on Europe is fine with us. We have the
support of many voters."
European Commission proposals for a
European pillar of social rights include a comprehensive package of
social rights to create equal opportunity on the job market along
with minimum salaries, unemployment benefits, and health care.
Gabriel's campaign lets Merkel sit between the extremes as the voice of
Britain and Europe
Brexit is bad news. At best, the UK and the
EU27 will reach an agreement they both believe serves their
interests reasonably well. At worst, Britain risks a disorderly
The UK seeks a deep and special partnership with the EU
after Brexit. It hopes to protect the rights of EU citizens living
in Britain and UK citizens living in EU member states. It wants a
soft border in Northern Ireland, free trade in goods with minimal
customs barriers, an ambitious services trade agreement, and
security and policing cooperation.
The EU27 seeks guarantees
for citizens and a good solution for Ireland, but otherwise starts
out from the status quo. Since the EU is happy with Britain as a
member state, it seeks compensation from the UK for damaging
Britain starts from a fantasy in which the UK is
already outside the EU and seeking a better relationship, while the
EU 27 is grounded in reality. Britain will have to budge.
Brits must face the facts. May will do her best. The EU demand for a
financial divorce settlement is reasonable. Gibraltar cannot get the
same EU deal as the UK.
2017 April 13
President Donald Trump on NATO: "I said it was
obsolete; it's no longer obsolete."
In a WSJ interview, Trump
praised Chinese president Xi Jinping, backed down a threat to brand
China a currency manipulator, and eased off on his demands for China
to reverse the trade imbalance with the United States.
decried Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as a "butcher" and might
now advocate regime change.
Trump: "Right now we are not
getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in
terms of relationship with Russia."
He even publicly
criticized his political guru Steve Bannon.
A wild first 100
The Science of Consciousness
5-10, San Diego, California
The 2017 conference was
scheduled in Shanghai, China, June 5-10, but due to unforeseen
circumstances is moving to The Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine,
near the UCSD campus.
TSC is the world's largest and
longest-running interdisciplinary conference on all aspects of the
nature of conscious experience, awareness, feelings and existence.
Questions include how the brain produces consciousness, whether
consciousness is intrinsic to the universe, or an epiphenomenal
illusion, how consciousness can causally affect brain processes,
what are the best empirical theories, do we have free will, how did
life and consciousness originate and evolve, what are the origins of
moral and aesthetic values, how can we improve mental, physical and
cognitive function, and can consciousness persist after bodily
death. These are approached through science, philosophy, culture,
and contemplative practices.
TSC began at the University of
Arizona in Tucson in 1994, and returns there in even-numbered years,
alternating with TSC conferences around the globe.
AR I was at Tucson in 2000 and 2002, as
well as at the TSC meetings in Denmark in 1997, Sweden in 2001, and
the Czech Republic in 2003. I also liked the
in Bremen in 1998, Oxford in 2006, and Berlin in 2009.
"We will hold the US wholly
accountable for the catastrophic
consequences to be entailed
by its outrageous actions."
China moves 150,000 troops
and medical supplies to
Jupiter, 668 Gm away
"Political imagination seems
exhausted. Not one major party
the US or the UK offers our
children something their
grandparents didn't have."
"Bannon is just a conniving
hateful bloated punk who
President Trump removed
Steve Bannon from the NSC
and restored senior military
and intelligence officials,
in a change arranged by
Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
AR Good work, Mac.
"The choice of the British
that may be, does not fit
into the march of
— not European history
and not global history."
Wins ACM Turing Prize
I talked with him
Gail Campbell, 2017
Nurse: "Jesus Christ had only
but look at you!
You're clearly a very important
man. What do
Parfit: "I work on
2017 April 12
Ghost in the Shell
The groundbreaking 1995 original Ghost in
the Shell, based on a manga series by Masamune Shirow, was a
masterpiece. The Hollywood remake has dialled down the
introspection, beefed up the action, and tweaked the enigmatic plot.
The result is not so dumbed down that it loses the original
chilly techno-dread. Scarlett Johansson dives deep into a tricky role, a
character who is as much a sentient weapon as she is a human
consciousness. The visual impact is breathtaking.
AR Despite the Hollywood action format,
the philosophical issues about human or cyborg identity come over
clearly. The future cityscape is richly imagined and chillingly
plausible. And Johansson as Japanese is amusing.
The New York Times
Modern London is the metropolis that
globalization created. London is banker to the planet. It is as much
city-state as city, with a culture and economy that circulate the
Modern London thrives on the idea
that one city can be a global melting pot, a global trading house,
and a global media machine. The thought is that being connected to
the rest of the world is something to celebrate.
to London when that idea unexpectedly falls away? Brexit is probably
the noisiest and most complicated divorce in modern European
history. The certainties that sustained a great city are no longer
Those who voted for Britain to leave the European
Union say London is reclaimed. But banks, investment firms, and
other companies are making plans to move elsewhere.
AR From potential capital of Europe to
actual capital of a rocky outcrop.
2017 April 11
Carrying more than 5,000 sailors and 60 aircraft, the
Nimitz-class carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is heading for North
Korea. She is escorted by guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E.
Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake
Champlain. The three escort warships have more than 300 combined
missile tubes and are outfitted with the Aegis ABM system.
Peter Layton, a visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute in
"The Carl Vinson group is commanded from
Hawaii, rather than the US military base in Japan, so it's a clear
American initiative not a Japanese or South Korea one. That may
defuse attempts to link Japan and South Korea and thus limit the
possibility of any North Korean aggression against them."
Former CIA and NSA head retired General Michael Hayden:
matter what we do there is this move by North Korea to build
missiles and put weapons on top of missiles. This is what they count
on for regime survival. ... The best we can do is box it where it is
right now. I don't think we can make them give up the program."
2017 April 10
Researchers have found that the dreaming
brain and the waking brain often recruit the same areas for the same
types of experience. Dreaming about faces is linked to increased
high-frequency activity in the brain region for face recognition,
and so on.
Francesca Siclari and colleagues made a series of EEG recordings
of participants who were sleeping. The participants were awakened
periodically and asked if they had been dreaming. If they had, they
were asked how long they thought the dream had lasted and what they
could remember of it.
The researchers linked dreaming to a
drop in low-frequency activity in a cortical hot zone including
visual areas and areas involved in sensory integration. This held
regardless of whether the dream was remembered or not and whether it
occurred during REM or non-REM sleep.
The researchers also
linked dreaming to an increase in high-frequency activity in the hot
zone during non-REM sleep and linked dream recall to an increase in
high-frequency activity toward the forebrain. They saw similar
activity in the hot zone and beyond for dreams during REM sleep.
The team learned to predict dreaming from the EEG trace with
high confidence. The study could help clarify the nature of
consciousness by revealing what happens in the brain during sleep
when we switch from unconscious to conscious states.
2017 April 9
President Donald Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles against a
Syrian airfield in Homs. I think we can now discern the beginning of
an improvement in US foreign policy.
The head of the Russian
propaganda outlet RT observed darkly that the airstrikes had been
ordered on the centenary of the US entry into WW1.
Woodrow Wilson opted for intervention in Europe. He chose to tip the
scales in favor of Britain and France. He had a strategy.
Trump has shown the world that a new sheriff is in town. He has
shown Chinese President Xi Jinping that he will not shirk from using
force against North Korea.
This does not amount to a coherent
strategy to stabilize the Mideast.
The Wilson strategy led to WW2.
The Rock imported 117 million packs of
cigarettes in 2013. This epic Russian smuggling operation may have
cost EU countries €700 million in lost tax revenues.
Gibraltar used to be a naval garrison blockaded by Spain. When the
money dried up with the end of the cold war, the Rock had to
diversify. Like other British colonies, it did so by aggressively
undercutting the rules and taxes of its neighbors.
more than 60,000 companies registered in Gibraltar. These undermine
the UK as much as everyone else. A recent Gib growth industry has
been online gambling.
Gibraltar is loyal, it guards the gates
to the Med, it loves Britain and the Queen. This is like a kid who
visits his gran every weekend, just so he can nick her pension.
AR Give it
back to Spain.
2017 April 8
David Bohm developed a quantum theory
in which a wave with properties identical to that of the standard
wave function guides particles around. In his picture, if particles
are entangled, a common pilot wave guides them, and any change in
the position or momentum of one particle instantly changes the pilot
wave, thus influencing all the other particles.
In a new
double-slit experiment, researchers created pairs of photons with
entangled polarizations, and sent one photon of each pair through a
double slit that would let a vertically polarized photon through
slit A and a horizontally polarized photon through slit B. Measuring
the polarization of the second photon revealed the polarization of
the photon passing through the slits.
The team determined the
path of the traveling photon as it went through the apparatus and
measured the polarization state of the associated probe photon. They
did this with tens of thousands of photon pairs, and found that, on
average, at the moment a photon passed through slit A, the probe
photon would be vertically polarized, as expected. When a traveling
photon was measured at a position on the screen corresponding to
having passed through slit A, half the time the polarization of the
probe photon was horizontal, suggesting that the traveling photon
had passed through slit B.
The experiment shows that the
moving photon is constantly changing the polarization of the probe
photon. Look at the probe photon at the moment the moving photon
goes through a slit, and there is no contradiction. But look at it
the moment the moving photon hits the screen and, half of the time,
its polarization state has changed. Bohmian theory accepts this
Bohmian mechanics is formulated to replicate the
predictions of standard quantum mechanics for non-relativistic
particles. By contrast, quantum field theory is Lorentz invariant.
Attempts to marry Bohmian ideas with special relativity still fail.
AR Locality fails in Bohmian
mechanics, so it offers no advantage over standard quantum theory,
just a lot of traditional metaphysical baggage that physicists
should learn to drop. My interpretation is closer to Copenhagen but
better adapted to general relativity and information theory.
2017 April 7
Trump Raises the Stakes
Dennis B. Ross
President Trump's decision to launch 59
Tomahawk cruise missiles against Al Shayrat air base in Syria was
swift and purposeful. The United States has sent a powerful message
that there is a price for using chemical weapons.
AR His baptism of fire.
Die Welt gerät
aus den Fugen. UK
governments had stuck to their promises, delivered to their allies,
and been diplomatically astute. But now the UK seems to have gone
mad. The prime minister gave the job of foreign secretary to a man
who campaigned for Brexit and who compared the EU to the Nazi
The European Research Group is the most powerful
opposition force in British politics. The group wants a hard Brexit:
little or no severance money to the EU, little or no jurisdiction
from the European Court, a gung-ho up-yours stance on relationships
with the single market, and impatience with those who dislike their
Two weeks ago the Daily Telegraph published a letter
from 70 MPs demanding that the BBC tell the good news about Brexit.
In the last week MPs have played a kind of Monty Python sketch of
competitive bragging, where one says we won't pay anything and
another adds: "Never mind paying nothing, they should pay us!"
ERG people are busy talking with themselves about what a good
position we are all in. One said the EU negotiators won't really
insist on getting their money before talking about trade. In a
normal parliament a strong opposition could act as a corrective to
this sort of fantasy. How can our EU partners take it seriously?
AR If the UK sets itself against the
EU, only one of the unions will survive. Place your bets: a little
old union with toytown politics, medieval institutions, and a broken
economy takes on a big new one with an unparalleled cultural
heritage, modern political institutions, and one of the strongest
economies in the world.
The Age of Genius
In 1633, René Descartes learned that
Galileo had been convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church and
punished with a life sentence of house arrest. Descartes was shaken
enough to suppress a treatise he had written based on the
heliocentric model of Copernicus. Something special happened in
philosophy in the seventeenth century, and especially in natural
The New Philosophy was characterized by
a reliance on reason and evidence rather than devotion to religious
or ancient authority. Truth was a matter of discovery, not decree.
Philosophy pursued causal explanations of phenomena based on
experiment and mathematics. Popular accounts of modern philosophy
typically start with Descartes, who in 1637 said cogito ergo sum.
2017 April 6
My White House Role
I think there are multiple ways to have your
voice heard. Where I disagree with my father, he knows it. And I
express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and
support the agenda and make a positive impact. But I respect the
fact that he always listens. It's how he was in business. It's how
he is as president.
I am confident in my father to be able to
execute on his promise to the people who elected him. I think the
election highlighted for people just how divided this country was.
We're in a unique time where noise equals, in a lot of people's
perception, advocacy. And I fundamentally disagree with that. I do
think there's a time for public denouncement. I also think there's a
time for discussion.
I wasn't elected by the American people
to be president. My father is gonna do a tremendous job. And I wanna
help him do that. But I don't think that it will make me a more
effective advocate to constantly articulate every issue publicly
where I disagree. I think most of the impact I have, over time, most
people will not actually know about.
If being complicit is
wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then
I'm complicit. I don't know that the critics who may say that of me,
if they found themselves in this unique and unprecedented situation
that I am now in, would do any differently than I'm doing. So I hope
to make a positive impact. I hope time will prove that I have done a
good job and, much more importantly, that my father's administration
is the success that I know it will be.
AR Sounds good to me.
2017 April 5
German President Attacks Brextremism
German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier
told MEPs in the European Parliament that the Brextremists would be
unable to deliver on their promise to take back control.
said he was convinced that in this world a single European country
standing alone and without the EU cannot make its voice heard or
assert its economic interests. Only as partners on the world stage
can Europeans avoid becoming the playthings of other powers.
He said Brextremist promises would come to nothing, "Take back
control" is a strong slogan but nationalists are unable to deliver
it, and if it can be delivered then it is something we can only do
He described the UK vote to leave as "bitter" and
said Germany fully supported the European project. He dismissed
Donald Trump's claims the EU was a vehicle for German economic
In English, Steinmeier added: "In my country, yes,
we want Europe. We want to build a better Europe and we want to be a
European People's Party bloc leader
Manfred Weber: "Some of the politicians in London have not
understood what leaving the European Union means. It means being
British leader of Conservative MEPs Ashley Fox: "The
European Parliament claims to represent all the citizens of the EU,
and until we leave that includes UK citizens. Therefore,
Conservative MEPs intend to continue playing a full role in all
debates, including discussions on Brexit. To suggest otherwise is
both unconstitutional and undemocratic."
Exit vom Brexit
Ein Widerruf der Austrittsmitteilung durch
die Briten dürfte nur unter Bedingungen, die von allen
Mitgliedstaaten der EU-27 festgelegt werden, möglich sein.
Rechtsdienst des Europaparlaments: "Es herrscht weitgehende
Einigkeit, dass der Austrittsprozess gestoppt werden könnte, wenn
alle anderen Mitgliedstaaten zustimmen."
Gerichtshof müsste entscheiden.
EuGH — von Brextremisten verflucht!
2017 April 4
Germans sometimes call Brits
Inselaffen — island monkeys — unpredictable, backward, quarrelsome,
and isolated. The term has boomed since Brexit.
At the annual
Königswinter conference last weekend, British participants tried to
outline a new post-Brexit Anglo-German relationship. The best line
was that Brexit was a resolution, not a dissolution. Instead of
moaning about EU integration, Britain would now engage
on things like security.
● The Balkans are awash with
Russian influence and jihadists.
● Europe has failed in Syria,
in Libya, and in the Mideast.
● Turkey is descending
headlong into autocracy.
● NATO deterrence in the
Baltic states is still fragile.
● The war in Ukraine bubbles
● Democracy and the rule of
law are under strain.
Serious shit, as one German said.
Germany and Britain complement each other. Germany is the
economic giant, Britain is the leading military and intelligence
power. German defense
spending may not reach 2% of GDP, but it may hit 3% on defense and
conflict prevention combined.
Britain objects to an ECJ ruling that would prohibit GCHQ from
collecting and storing internet data. Brexit will solve that problem
for the Inselaffen.
EU draft negotiating document on Brexit: "After the
United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the
United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the
agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom."
That prompted fury in Britain. Former Conservative party leader
Lord Michael Howard: "I do think it is a remarkable coincidence that
35 years ago this week another woman prime minister sent a task
force half way across the world to protect another small group of
British people against another Spanish speaking country."
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: "I think the position of the
government is very, very clear, which is that the sovereignty of
Gibraltar is unchanged, and it's not going to change and cannot
conceivably change without the express support and consent of the
people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, and that is not going to
Spain called for cool heads. Foreign Minister
Alfonso Dastis: "Frankly, it seems to me that someone in the United
Kingdom is losing their temper."
Gibraltar is classified as a
British Overseas Territory. The UK has held sovereignty over
Gibraltar for more than 300 years after it was captured from Spain
in a war. In a 2002 referendum Gibraltar residents rejected a
proposal to share the territory between the UK and Spain, but in the
2016 referendum 96% of them voted to stay in the European Union.
Between a Rock and a Hard Brexit
Gibraltar is a remnant of the British
Empire. Spain will not forget about the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht that
assigned the Rock to the UK.
The Kingdom of Spain is soon to
be the fourth largest EU economy and has the backing of the entire
European Union. The Brexit choice may be between:
— A good deal
for the UK and Gibraltar shared with Spain
— A hard and hostile
Brexit plus a blockade of Gibraltar
The UK will also need to
be mindful of its base on EU member Cyprus.
Großbritannien verliert die Contenance
Der Vorschlag, in den Krieg gegen Spanien zu
ziehen, stammt aus Michael Howard. Der ehemalige Vorsitzende der
Konservativen Partei, der sich seit sieben Jahren Baron Howard of
Lympne nennen darf, brachte den Krieg von seinem Wohnzimmersofa aus
Gibraltar ist nur halb so groß wie die
Falklandinseln, besitzt aber etwa 30.000 Einwohnern. Vor etwa
300 Jahren fiel der Fels in britische Hand. Die spanische
Bevölkerung wurde vertrieben. Der Landzipfel ist dem breiteren
Publikum vor allem als notorische Steueroase ein Begriff.
Spanien hat den Schotten nun weiteren Auftrieb verschafft: Madrid
hat seine bisherige Opposition zum EU-Beitritt eines unabhängigen
Schottlands gerade aufgeben. Gibraltar hat mehrheitlich gegen den
Brexit gestimmt: 96% der Bevölkerung waren gegen den Austritt.
Madrid hat sich zurückgehalten. Außenminister Alfonso Dantis:
"Die spanische Regierung ist ein wenig überrascht über den Ton, den
Großbritannien anschlägt. In diesem Fall mangelt es eindeutig an der
traditionellen britischen Contenance."
AR Ein Hauch von deutscher Schadenfreude da!
2017 April 3
I have great respect for Xi Jinping. I have
great respect for China. China has great influence over North Korea.
And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they
won't. If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.
Look where we are. We have an $800 billion trade deficit. The
Mideast is a mess. This is a very, very serious problem that we have
in the world today. The United States has talked long enough and you
see where it gets us, it gets us nowhere.
I think Brexit is
very good for the UK. I would have thought when it happened that
more would follow, but I really think the European Union is getting
their act together. It could be a very good thing for both. There is
a different spirit for holding together.
In July 2014, German statistician
Thomas Royen proved a famous conjecture at the intersection of
geometry, probability theory, and statistics that had eluded experts
The Gaussian correlation inequality (GCI) was
posed in an elegant form in 1972. Royen, 67, found it could be
extended into a statement he was familiar with, and suddenly saw how
to prove it.
His proof was short and simple. He typed it up
and posted it to arxiv.org. False proofs of the GCI had been floated
repeatedly over the decades, so at first his achievement went
In its 1972 form, the GCI puts a lower bound on
the odds in a game of darts. Imagine two overlapping convex polygons
A and B centered on a target point. Darts thrown at the target will
land in a bell curve distribution of positions around the center
point. The GCI says the probability that a dart will land inside
both A and B is at least as high as the probability of landing in A
times the probability of landing in B. The same inequality was
thought to hold for any two convex symmetrical shapes with any
number of dimensions centered on a point.
Royen found he
could generalize the GCI to apply to statistical spreads related to
the squares of Gaussian distributions, called gamma distributions.
His familiarity with gamma distributions sparked his epiphany. He
transformed his function into a simpler function and saw that the
derivative of this transformed function was equivalent to the
transform of the derivative of the original function. The latter
derivative was always positive, proving the GCI. Experts say any
graduate student in statistics could follow his proof.
"It is like a kind of grace. We can work for a long time on a
problem and suddenly ... a good idea."
2017 April 2
Brexit will be much more protracted and expensive than the worst
imaginable divorce. Both sides: "Never again will those impossible
people on the other side of the Channel be able to interfere in our
affairs. Now we can take back control and sit back and watch their
union fall apart."
Schisme est le mot
juste — recall the great division between western and
eastern Christianity in 1054. As Rome was to past schisms, so
Brussels is to this one.
Britain was always a brake on
European federalism. Now the EU27 can unite in giving the UK a hard
time. Brextremists see an economic 1940, with a global Britain
striking out anew.
AR May the
force be with EU in year 77 of the fight for FUK.
2017 April 1
Quantum theory and modern mathematics
complement each other to reveal symmetries in reality.
Classical mechanics may compute how a particle
travels from A to B along a geodesic. Quantum mechanics considers
all possible paths from A to B. The Feynman sum over histories
assigns to each path a weight that determines the probability that a
particle will go that way. The classical solution is simply the most
Calabi-Yau spaces are compactified 6D solutions
of the Einstein equations of gravity. One can count the number of
curves on a Calabi-Yau space using an integer, the degree, that
measures how often the curves wrap around. Finding the number of
curves of a given degree is hard even for the simplest Calabi-Yau
space, the quintic. The number of degree 1 curves is 2,875. The
number of degree 2 curves is 609,250. The number of degree 3 curves
String theorists defined a single function with a
physical interpretation as a probability amplitude for a string
propagating in the Calabi-Yau space that probes all possible curves
of every possible degree at once. An equivalent formulation of the
physics uses a mirror Calabi-Yau space with a different topology but
the same string propagation. The difficult computation on the
original manifold translates into a single integral on the mirror
Mirror symmetry illustrates duality. Two classical
models can be equivalent when considered as quantum systems.
Dualities point to deep symmetries of the underlying quantum theory.
Mirror symmetry can connect symplectic geometry, which underlies
much of mechanics, with algebraic geometry, the world of complex
Mathematicians bring new rigor to quantum theory as
they work on homological mirror symmetry.
AR Hard stuff. My work is prior to all